The High Park Fire near Fort Collins, Colo. is burning on 43,433 acres as of Tuesday morning. The out of control blaze is being fought by more than 500 firefighters and they are concerned that Tuesday's high temperatures could spread the fire further.
However, conditions have improved from where they were over the weekend according to fire officials and there is some hope Tuesday that the firefighters could possibly make progress. "The tone has really changed, I feel like we got a chance to make some yardage," Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said in a media briefing. "We're actually playing a game now, we're actually opponents on the field, before we were just losing ground." And firefighters have gained some ground -- InciWeb.org reports that the fire is now 5 percent contained as of Tuesday.
No matter what, the fire's size and scope means a long road to full control, as The Denver Post's Jeremy Meyer tweeted Tuesday:
Fire control -- not simply containment -- means that the fire is out, that it no longer smolders and feels hot to the touch.
(SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATED EVACUATION ORDERS)
9News reports that nearly 100 homes have now been damaged or destroyed in a fire that authorities are calling "very aggressive" and believe to have been started by lightning. Firefighters have seen flames as high as 300 feet and moving as fast as 20-40 feet per minute, according to InciWeb.org.
On Monday, officials confirmed that there has been one death due to the High Park Fire, The Coloradoan reported. Officials believe they found the remains of 62-year-old Linda Stedman at her house on Old Flowers Road.
Stedman reportedly received two fire notification calls and when a deputy personally went to her residence to warn her, he was pushed back by flames that were already consuming the house, according to 9News.
The family issued a statement about Stedman that was read by Sheriff Smith on Monday night, 7News released part of that statement:
Linda Steadman, mother, grandmother, sister and wife perished in the cabin she loved. As you can imagine, this is a difficult time for the Steadman family, and they ask that they are allowed time to grieve privately. The entire Steadman Family would like to commend all the firefighters and emergency personnel dedicated to saving lives and property.
On Sunday night, the High Park Fire burning in Larimer County, Colorado had already scorched more than 20,000 acres and Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said there is little hope for containment anytime soon.
"We have no hope for containment today," Smith said during a Sunday media briefing about the fire. "Mother Nature is driving this fire. All we can do is get people out of the way."
Reuters reports that Mother Nature has indeed produced difficult conditions for firefighters over since the blaze took hold including erratic and strong winds, dry conditions and temperatures rising above 90 degrees near the fire.
The total number of firefighters on the scene has doubled, jumping to 500 on Tuesday from 250 on Sunday. Sheriff Smith said that the firefighters are doing everything they can to battle the blaze with the support of several air tankers and helicopters. Additional ground, air and fire engines have been ordered for Monday, according to InciWeb.org.
The Denver Post reports that the number of firefighters is expected to reach 600 by Wednesday.
"This is the fire a lot of folks in Larimer County have always been worried about," Gov. John Hickenlooper said after touring the scene of the fire, The Denver Post reports. "We are throwing everything at it we can." Gov. Hickenlooper signed an executive order requesting National Guard support for fire relief efforts.
During a Sunday media briefing, Smith echoed Hickenlooper's sentiments saying that this fire has been burning through multiple areas of Roosevelt National Forest that authorities have been concerned about for the past two decades.
About 2,600 emergency notifications have gone out to residents and businesses within a five to 15-mile radius of the nearly 64-square-mile fire over the weekend and into Monday.
InciWeb.org reports that evacuation orders remain in place for the following areas:
- New evacuation order is in place for Pingree Park Road, Hourglass and Comanche reservoirs, east on Buckhorn Road up to and including Pennock Pass, NE to junction with Stove Prairie and Hwy 14; West to junction with Highway 15 and Pingree Park Road. This evacuation includes Pingree Park Campus and Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp. (25 notification sent). Evacuated residents south of CR38E from Gindler Ranch Road west to Milner Ranch Road are being allowed to return to their homes as of noon Tuesday, June 12. Residents in this area who registered their cell phones with leta911.org should have received an automated message notifying them that they may now return. Some 380 reverse evacuation notifications were sent. Roads are closed south of CR74E (this closure does not include CR74E). Residents only are allowed in this area. This road closure includes Hewlett Gulch Road, Deer Meadow Way, Gordon Creek Lane and all connecting roads in that area.
- Pre-evacuation alerts have been sent to Glacier View residents but no evacuation orders have been issued.
- North of County Road 38E, from Horsetooth Reservoir to Redstone Canyon to Lory State park.
- Bonner Peaks subdivision.
- County Road 44H (Buckhorn Road) from County Road 27 to Pennock Pass and residents to the south approximately 3/4-1 mile.
- CR27E to Bellvue.
- Areas south and west of Bellvue to include the Lory State Park area, the Redstone Canyon area and Buckhorn Road up to the Stove Prairie School.
- Poudre Canyon from MM111 to MM118 on Highway 14. This means Poudre Canyon from Stove Prairie to MM118 is under mandatory evacuations.
- The area between CR27E and Stove Prairie Road and south through the entire Rist Canyon area including Davis Ranch Road, Whale Rock Road.
- South on CR44H 3 miles to just north of Stringtown Gulch Road Paradise Park Road, Moose Horn Lane, Magic Lane and Spencer Mountain Road.
- Old Flowers Road from Stove Prairie Road to the 8000-block of Old Flowers Road.
- Stove Prairie Road north along County Road 27 to Highway 14, east along Highway 14 to approximately mile marker 111, southeast to Rist Canyon Fire Station 1, then back west to to include Wilderness Ridge Way, Rist Creek Road, Spring Valley Road and County Road 41 and all of the roads that run off of it.
- Hewlitt Gulch, King's Canyon area and Boyd Gulch Road.
To put the size of the fire into perspective -- at more than 41,000 acres, the fire is almost as large as both the cities of Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado combined.
For the latest official maps of the fire, updates on closed roads and evacuations visit InciWeb.org.
LOOK: Photos, video from the High Park Fire below.
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