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Colorado evacuations continue with more than 180 homes burned

4:42 AM, Jun 18, 2012   |    comments
Colorado wildfires
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FORT COLLINS, CO - Winds of up to 50 miles per hour have grounded the aircraft helping fight the High Park Fire and sent a blanket of smoke into Fort Collins.

Both light and heavy helicopters have been grounded until further notice, according to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.

Meanwhile, more homes are being evacuated north of the burn perimeter in case the fire spreads above Poudre Canyon.

At least 96 notices have been sent to people in the Hewlett Gulch Subdivision, and everyone in the area is advised to leave immediately.

"Most people in that area have already been evacuated," said Jennifer Hillman with the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. "It's not necessarily because of fire activity. It's due to anticipation of winds moving in that area."

Residents in the Seaman Reservoir area had been allowed back into their homes Saturday, but the increased fire activity has cut off access.

Weather has made work difficult as temperatures are forecast in the 90s and winds gusting up to 40 to 50 miles on ridges and in Poudre Canyon threaten its spread. It is expected to be the hottest day since the fire started June 9.

Containment has reached 45%, and a fire line has been built around an area of the fire that jumped north of the canyon and burned 200 acres a few miles from Glacier View Meadows. But the fire's growth potential remains "extreme," the terrain is "difficult," and 1,631 people are involved in the fight, according to fire information at www.inciweb.org.

Around 103 engines, 17 helicopters were on scene Sunday, including three Blackhawk helicopters from the Army National Guard. The total cost to fight the fire is estimated to be $10.8 million.

The High Park Fire has destroyed 181 homes, including dozens of homes in two neighborhoods in Rist Canyon, making the 86-square-mile blaze the most devastating wildfire in Colorado history. One person was arrested within the fire perimeter Saturday, but officials say there's been no looting of homes.

On Sunday afternoon, a new wildfire was burning near Lake George, Colo.

The 200 acre fire is burning approximately three miles south of Lake George on the Pike National Forest.

More than 40 firefighters are assigned to the incident. At least four heavy air tankers and one helicopter are working to contain the blaze.

USA Today

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