Galena Fire grows up to 1,000 acres, prompting 250 evacuations; 2nd fire near LaPorte

Fire was originally called 'Soldier Canyon Fire'

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. - Fueled by high winds, the Galena Fire burning near Fort Collins has rapidly grown up to 1,000 acres

The fire was 5 percent contained at 8:30 p.m., with more than 100 firefighters on the line.

The forced over a hundred homes to be evacuated. Larimer County authorities said the evacuations would remain overnight due to an expected change in the winds around midnight.

Fire officials released this statement just before 9 p.m.

Things have  calmed down for the evening but we still have hand crews actively working the north side of the fire and parts of the west flank. Also, engines continue to work the southern area in the Inlet Bay vicinity. We're hoping to avoid any gusty winds associated with some incoming weather - which will hopefully bring some precipitation, or at the least higher humidity.

The humidity could recover overnight, Larimer County posted to their website. 7NEWS Meteorologist Matt Makens agreed with their forecast, saying clouds will increase through Saturday morning. There could be a chance of rain or snow as high as sixty percent Saturday evening, Makens added.

Smoke from the larger, 700-plus-acre Galena Fire was blown by winds over the Horsetooth Reservoir throughout the day.

The fire was originally called the Soldier Canyon Fire but was in fact officially named the Galena Fire, according to Larimer County.

The county website also said the fire was "estimated at perhaps 800 acres," about an hour before Poudre Fire Authority spokesman Patrick Love spoke to reporters and provided the 700 acre estimate.

The fire is burning near Lory State Park. It has prompted emergency notifications to be sent to residents, and the evacuation of about 300 homes at the peak.

About 200 to 250 of the evacuated homes are located in the south bay inlet area of Horsetooth Reservoir. That area  was being evacuated just after 3 p.m. This area is where the marina is, as well as the trailhead to Horsetooth Mountain.

About 50 of the evacuated homes were being threatened as of 5:30 p.m., Love reported.

Hikers were also evacuated from Horsetooth Mountain Park because of the fire.

Jason Speciner, a 7NEWS viewer, said he was taking a drive in the area with his daughter when the fire started.

"We pulled right up to the Visitor Center entrance and were immediately told to leave, which we did," Speciner said. "It was there that I could see how close it [the fire] was to structures."

Love said the "vegetation fire" was first reported in a 911 call at 11:45 a.m.

"When our crews got on scene they found a fire that was being pushed by the wind and also immediately threatening structures in the area," he said.

Love said some of the first firefighters who arrived were able to save two homes and the Lory State Park Visitor Center from being damaged in the fire.

In addition to ground crews, a helicopter was able to drop water over the fire late Friday afternoon.

A total of 860 emergency notifications were sent to landline phones, cell phones and other devices throughout the day. That number does not correspond directly to the number of evacuated homes and officials say 283 of those notifications were later rolled back.

The Soldier Canyon Estates area, evacuated first when the fire began, was reopened to residents by 6:50 p.m.

The Cache la Poudre Elementary School gym in LaPorte was designated as the evacuation center and shelter, according to Larimer County. This was one of the primary shelters last year during the High Park Fire. Assistance available there includes the Red Cross.

The Larimer Cty emergency info line will remained staffed until 10 p.m., with a recording after 10 p.m. at 970-498-5500. The line will be staffed again starting at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Love said that while March is one of Colorado's snowiest month, it is unfortunate that battling wildfires in this month is not unusual because of the continuing drought. Humidity in the area is 11 percent, he said.

If you have photos of the fire, please send them to 7NEWS@TheDenverChannel.com

Please refresh this page for updates on this developing story.

To see the location of both fires, click on this link --http://ch7ne.ws/156Sl2x -- or look at the map below.


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