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High Park Fire: Total Homes Destroyed Increases; Firefighters Brace For Extreme Heat Over The Weekend (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

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In this June 19, 2012 photo provided by the Colorado National Guard, an aircraft drops a load of fire retardant slurry above the High Park wildfire about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colo. The ammonium phosphate dropped from airplanes to slow the spread of raging wildfires can turn a pristine mountain stream into a death zone for trout and some say the retardant has never been proven effective. (AP Photo/Colorado National Guard, John Rohrer)
In this June 19, 2012 photo provided by the Colorado National Guard, an aircraft drops a load of fire retardant slurry above the High Park wildfire about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colo. The ammonium phosphate dropped from airplanes to slow the spread of raging wildfires can turn a pristine mountain stream into a death zone for trout and some say the retardant has never been proven effective. (AP Photo/Colorado National Guard, John Rohrer)

The High Park Fire, the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, grew to 68,440 acres Friday morning.

Overnight, firefighters expanded containment to 60 percent, however the blaze continues to grow.

A total of 191 homes have been destroyed -- the total is up two from previous assessments, but firefighters believe that number will continue to increase as more of the burned out area is surveyed.

Good progress is being made as evidenced by fewer heat sources identified by infrared imagery, according to InciWeb.org. However, officials say that it could be weeks -- or even months -- before the fire is completely under control.

Firefighters took advantage of cool weather on Wednesday, raising containment, and used burnout operations to bring the fire down to control lines south Poudre Canyon near Mount McConnel. "This is critical," said Operations Chief Tom Smith, "that we bring the fire slowly to our line."

According to InciWeb.org, altogether firefighters have now put in nearly 250,000 hours of work on this fire, almost 18 years worth, with only one reported firefighter injury.

"Mother nature provided a window," Brett Haberstick of the Interagency Wildfire Dispatch Center said, according to Fox31. "These conditions gave us a very good operational environment for being aggressive with this fire and gaining control."

But that cool temperature window has passed and firefighters are bracing for extreme heat starting Friday and on through next week with temperatures reaching the upper-90s on Friday and triple digits by Saturday, KDVR's chief meteorologist Dave Fraser said.

The Denver Post reports that authorities are deeply worried as temperatures rise, high winds pick up and several fires statewide continue to burn.

A Red Flag Warning from the National Weather Service is in effect beginning at noon on Friday and through Saturday evening. Winds are expected to increase to 15-25 mph, with gusts of up to 35 mph in the wildfire area.

On Thursday, 164 notifications went out to some Poudre Park residents permitting them to return home. Residents who live in areas where property damage has occurred can call 970-619-4086 to find out the status of their home.

Reporters were given a tour of a burnt out community along Larimer County Road 29C, Missile Silo Road on Wednesday. 9News' Kevin Torres spoke with firefighters in the area who spoke about the devastation and the time it will take for the area to recover -- at least a generation, firefighters said. Patrick Love of the Poudre Fire Authority told Torres, "Most of us will be dead before things look the way they used to."

The wildfire which has already burned approximately 106-square-miles, is the third largest fire as well as the most destructive fire in Colorado state history, having burned at least 189 homes so far. The cost of the fire to date is $19.6 million.

1,859 firefighters battle the blaze, burning since June 9 and now in its 13th day, with the help of 17 helicopters, 4 heavy air tankers, 132 fire engines and 5 dozers.

InciWeb.org has the latest evacuation information:

  • PRE-evacuation notifications sent to residents along Colorado Highway 14 from the Pingree Park Road on 6/19, west to Glen Echo (mile marker 90), and north on CR69 to Goodell Corner. The pre-evacuation notice was issued in response to a new spot fire north of Highway 14 along the northwest fire perimeter. The Shoreline Drive area is also in a pre-evacuation.
  • Mandatory evacuation orders were issued on 6/17 for residents in the Hewlett Gulch subdivision area. The area runs from the Glacier View 9-12 filings (already evacuated) east to the Hewlett Gulch Trail, north to CR 74E and south to HWY 14.
  • Thursday an evacuation order for the 9th, 10th and 11th filings of Glacier View, to include the area west from Eiger Road to Rams Horn Mountain Road and north from the Mount Blanc Guardian Peak area to the north end of Mount Everest Drive, was issued. Evacuations were also ordered along Many Thunders Road and south into the 12th Filing of Glacier View. The road block is located at Eiger and Many Thunders Mountain Road. An additional roadblock is located at Green Mountain Drive at CR 74E.
  • CR 74E remains open and a pre-evacuation alert remains in effect for the rest of Glacier View subdivision (including the area north of CR 74E), and the area south of CR 74E between Hewlett Gulch Road to the east and CR 68C to the west and HWY 14 to the south.

Evacuation orders remain in place for the following areas:

  • 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
  • County Road 44H (Buckhorn Road) from County Road 27 to Pennock Pass and residents to the south approximately 3/4 - 1 mile.
  • 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 MM114 on Highway 14. (Stove Prairie to Hewlett Gulch Trail)
  • The area between CR 27E and Stove Prairie Road and south through the entire Rist Canyon area including Davis Ranch Road, Whale Rock Road.
  • South on County Road 44H 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 it.
  • Otter Road off of CR 27 (not a new notice; additional listing for clarification).
  • King's Canyon area and Boyd Gulch Road
  • Satanka Cove

Meanwhile, firefighters battling the Springer Fire, near Lake George in Colorado Springs, had their air tankers temporarily grounded due to meteor warnings, according to The Associated Press. The temporary grounding came after multiple meteor sighting reports came in, including one person who thought they saw a meteorite land in a wooded area north of Buena Vista.

For official fire maps and live updates from the ground of the many Colorado wildfires currently burning, visit InciWeb.org.

LOOK: Dramatic photos, video of the High Park Fire

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