Eastern Plains wildfire now 80 percent contained, 4 homes, multiple cattle lost

Rancher: We had to destroy 97 pair of cows/calves
Posted at 1:52 AM, Mar 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-08 03:52:03-05

HAXTUN, Colo. – Investigators say a northeastern Colorado wildfire, that scorched more than 30,000 acres, began on the north side of I-76 near the South Platte River in Logan County.

“We have located the point of origin,” said Lt. Dennis Alston, of the Logan County Sheriff’s Office. “The landowners have been cooperative through their attorneys and we are very appreciative of that.”

Alston also said they’ve asked the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to come out and assist, with “their expert team in fire investigations.”

High winds, with gusts up to 60 miles an hour, whipped continuously through the burn zone Tuesday, coating the charred countryside with a layer of fine sand.

Fire crews crept along county roads, where the visibility dropped down to 20 feet at times.

Phillips County Sheriff Rob Urbach said the blaze is now about 80 percent contained.

Destructive blaze

The fast-moving fire destroyed four homes, several outbuildings and dozens of cattle.

Brandi McConnell said it was devastating.

“We lost some livestock,” she said, showing emotion. “They suffered badly.”

McConnell said they had to put down about 97 pair of cows/calves that were badly burned.

“They were our livelihood,” she said.

Still, the Phillips County woman, who has been ranching with her husband for five years, said she’s grateful that no one in her family was hurt, nor were any of her neighbors.

“We just hand it all to God that our family is safe,” she said.

McConnell said she is especially concerned about a neighboring family that lost their home.

"They have two children," she said.  "They lost everything."

Wednesday’s Plan

Fire Command said two strike teams will continue to monitor the fire through Wednesday and that local fire departments will continue to supervise throughout the week.

In a news release issued Tuesday afternoon, the Phillips County Office of Emergency Management said, “The wind farm grounds were burned and there is a risk of exposed cable or wire, but no structure damages are reported, at this time.”

People are being asked to stay off the wind farm grounds for their own safety.

Community bands together

After learning about the destruction, people throughout eastern Colorado have banded together to help those impacted by the blaze.

Urbach said the Cattlemen’s Association is providing four truck-loads of hay.  Nutrina Feed is providing a semi-load of cattle feed and pet food.  Home Depot is chipping in with bottled water and safety masks, and the local FFA Chapter is providing emergency animal housing as well as expertise in fencing and repair.

The Red Cross is also on hand to help.

Additionally, GoFundMe accounts have been set up for some of the families who lost homes.  for Jared & Sara Firme  for Pam Adams