Governor Hickenlooper Declares Emergency Fire Situation
Governor Hickenlooper declared an emergency disaster for the fires raging in Las Animas County. The Purgatoire and Bear fires have already burned close to 13,000 acres cumulatively since they started over Memorial Day Weekend.
Up to $2.5 million in state aid has been authorized to help pay firefighting costs and Colorado will seek additional federal funds if necessary. Las Animas County's funds have already been exhausted as approximately nine federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Defense, have contributed to battling the blaze.
“Predicted hot weather and strong gusty winds coupled with abundant dry fuels indicate an aggressive response is essential,” Governor Hickenlooper's executive order says.
The order adds that over 116 firefighters, seven engines, three bulldozers and three helicopters are engaged in the effort.
The Bear Fire is located just about 15 miles southeast of Trinidad, having blown over the New Mexico border. The joining of two additional fires northeast of the Bear Fire caused the Purgatoire Fire, and both have burned over 6,000 acres.
Todays record-approaching high temperatures of 90 degrees in Denver and may further accelerate the burning in the southeast, and even the snowmelt in the mountains, raising flood worries.