EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. – Evacuations for a large fire burning in El Paso and Pueblo counties will remain in place overnight, and local authorities have asked the state to take over command of the fire.
The 117 Fire, as it has been called, has burned at least 10 structures in El Paso County and moved into Pueblo County Tuesday night, putting the Pueblo Chemical Depot on pre-evacuation notice. But that notice was lifted late Tuesday.
The PCD Fire Department has lifted the pre-evacuation order for the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP). The plant is continuing normal operations.
— Pueblo Chem Depot (@PCDPueblo) April 18, 2018
The fire is burning between Fountain and Pueblo near I-25, then east and northeast from there, according to evacuation zones.
As of 8:30 p.m., the evacuation zone was estimated to be about 305 square miles, and affected an estimated 370 homes and 1,000 people, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
#117Fire update 8:51p - Evacuations will stay in place throughout the night. Evac information will be updated Wednesday morning as it becomes available from the @EPCSheriff #wildfires pic.twitter.com/S4J09fvYbX
— El Paso County PIO (@epcpio) April 18, 2018
Evacuations have been ordered on the eastern side of I-25, and the Fountain Valley Baptist Church has been turned into a makeshift shelter for those forced to evacuate.
On Tuesday night, El Paso County authorities declared a disaster declaration and asked the state to take over command of the fire. The process for the state to take over the command was ongoing Tuesday night.
Firefighters from several metro-area agencies were dispatched further south to fight the flames Tuesday.
A red flag warning was extended in the area through 10 p.m. Tuesday, but winds were expected to die down gradually overnight. However, the high winds were expected to pick up again Wednesday morning.
Aside from fueling the wildfires, the high winds also wreaked havoc across the Front Range on buildings and drivers.
A call center for the fire is open until 10 p.m. Tuesday and will reopen Wednesday at 8 a.m. Call 719-575-8888 for more information.