Hewlett Fire Grows To 7,300 Acres

Some Mandatory Evacuations Lifted At Hewlett Fire

The Larimer County Sheriff's Office has lifted a mandatory evacuation order for 65 homes in the area of Bonner Springs Ranch Road, Deer Valley Road, Obenchain Road, Ingleside Road.

The mandatory evacuation for the 15 homes along Highway 14 from the Greyrock Trailhead to the North Poudre diversion dam -- approximately mile markers 113 to 115 -- is still in effect. Highway 14 is closed in this area.

The fire's size was placed at 7,300 acres, after the latest flyover with an infrared camera. Another flyover was scheduled for Thursday night. The fire was still only 5 percent contained on Thursday.

An evacuation center was set up at Cache La Poudre Middle School at 3515 W CR54G. Large animals can be taken to "The Ranch" otherwise known as the Larimer County fairgrounds.

A public meeting was held Thursday evening at the evacuation center, and Larimer County Undersheriff Bill Nelson updated the crowd on the latest developments in the firefighting efforts.

"We’ve been hitting it really hard today with air resources," Nelson said. "It's still very active in the northeast and north side of the fire."

Nelson said there had been a "major miscommunication" during the evacuations, and that more people in the Poudre Canyon were forced to leave than necessary.

"I apologize for anyone who was evacuated who did not need to be evacuated," said Nelson.

Highway 14 Closed

Meanwhile, threatening flames forced authorities to close 15 miles of Highway 14 between Ted's Place and Stove Prairie Road about 1:30 p.m., authorities said.

Several other neighborhoods remain on standby to evacuate. That includes residents along Highway 14 from mile marker 110 to 115, residents within a one mile radius of Mount Mahogany and Gordon Creek Lane and residents in the Bonner Peak subdivision.

More than 391 fire personnel were work the fire Thursday.

The size of the Hewlett Fire makes it the third-largest in Larimer County. The Bobcat Fire burned 10,000 acres in Larimer County in 2000. The Picnic Rock Fire burned 8,900 acres in Larimer County in 2004.

Students in the Poudre School District have been held indoors because of the amount of smoke and haze in the area. Recess was held indoors and afternoon and evening activities have been canceled at Cache La Poudre Elementary, the school's principal said.

The wildfire is burning in rough, steep terrain about 20 miles northwest of Fort Collins. Officials said the fire was human-caused. The fire started Monday, around 1 p.m. near the Hewlett Gulch trail.

Smoke from the fire can be smelled from all over the Denver metro area.

Greeley Water Supply Threatened

The wildfire has approached the west shore of Greeley’s Milton Seaman Reservoir. The Forest Service has evacuated city buildings, including the home of the reservoir caretakers.

Ash and sediment runoff into the Poudre River could compromise the Greeley's water quality, both during and after the wildfire. Greeley’s water supply has not been affected, so far.

To avoid any impact to drinking water quality for Greeley residents, the city has the ability to close the Poudre River intakes and draw water from Horsetooth Reservoir. Residents will notice no change in water quality.

"We have planned for situations like this. Because we have multiple water sources, we have alternatives when one or more sources are threatened," said Jon Monson, Director of Water and Sewer for Greeley.

Greeley is cooperating with the Forest Service, allowing them to draw water from Milton Seaman Reservoir to try to control the fire. The amount of water is relatively small and does not compromise Greeley’s water supply.

"We are glad to help," Monson said.

Pre-Evacuation Notice

Residents in the standby zone who decide to evacuate are being asked to put a white towel on their front door to alert firefighters that they have evacuated.

Fire map, updated Thursday May 17, 2012.

"You can also call Larimer County Emergency Communications at 970-416-1985 to let officials know you have left," the standby evacuation alert said.

391 Firefighters, 1 Air Tanker , 2 Choppers Fighting The Fire

There are 391 firefighters at the Hewlett Fire. The U.S. Forest Service said a heavy air tanker and Type 1 and 3 helicopters are working on the fire.

Two more air tankers and two more helicopters have been requested.

Detailed information on the fire can be found at Inciweb.org or by calling the Forest Service Information line at 970-498-1030.

Because of the intense smoke, Larimer County Health & Environment have issued a Wildfire Health Advisory.

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