Galena Fire ‘human caused,’ still 45 percent contained Sunday
Galena Fire west of Ft. Collins, Colo. March 15, 2013
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Galena Fire has now burned an estimated 750 to 1,000 acres west of Fort Collins near Horsetooth River, according to the Poudre Fire Authority.
The fire that erupted Friday near the Lory State Park remained about 45 percent contained, officials said Sunday morning. Residents will continue to see activity in the interior of the fire with active flames and tree torching. Winds were expected to increase Sunday afternoon, which will likely result in lots of smoke in the Fort Collins area.
According to Kathy Messick with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, the cause of the fire has been determined to be human caused.
Patrick Love with the Poudre Fire Authority said the cause was accidental. Love mentioned that the cause is also “not from a prescribed burn or an escaped controlled burn.”
The fire started near the entrance to the Lory State Park, officials said.
A Type III fire incident management team took over controlling the fire on Saturday morning.
According to Tony Simons, an incident commander with Larimer County emergency services, there are currently 50 firefighters on the ground, and another 60 are expected to arrive in the area Saturday.
“This time of year, there are not a lot of fire resources available,” Simons said during a press conference Saturday morning. A Type II helicopter arrived Saturday to help fight the flames, and a second helicopter will also be assisting firefighting efforts Sunday.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued Friday afternoon after the fire was threatening more than 50 homes. Additional evacuation notices were issued for residents south of the fire.
In a press release sent out on Saturday afternoon, John Schulz with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said that all evacuations for the Galena Fire would be lifted Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
Residents in the affected area will be allowed to return home, and will not need credentials to return to their houses. According to Schulz, these residents will remain on pre-evacuation status and should be prepared to leave if necessary.
The area affected is north of Larimer County Road 38E. This includes all feeder streets to Shoreline Drive in the vicinity of Inlet Bay and north up to and including the Continental Circle area.
Christensen said 579 emergency notifications were sent to residents living in the area Friday.
The Cache la Poudre Elementary School in Laporte was designated as the evacuation center. The Red Cross has set up a shelter there.
Currently there are road blocks at Shoreline Drive and County Road 38E and Skyline and 38E on the south part of the fire evacuation area. Lodgepole Drive at Lory State Park is also closed. County Road 38E is open. South Bay, Inlet Bay, Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park remain closed.
Authorities hope that Saturday’s cooler weather forecast will help firefighting efforts. Temperatures are expected to drop into the 50s, according to Chief Meteorologist Dave Fraser. There is also a 40 percent chance of rain expected for the Front Range.
Winds have also died down since Friday afternoon, which officials said were “extremely erratic,” and pushed the fire south toward Horsetooth Mountain Park.
Officials expect winds to increase to around 20 to 30 mph on Sunday.
Firefighters managed to save two houses and a state park visitor’s center from the fire, according to authorities.
There have been no injuries or loss of structures reported.
There were about 125 people at the resident evacuation meeting held at the Cache La Poudre gym at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Lory State Park and Horsetooth open space remain closed.
The emergency hotline number for the Galena Fire is (970) 498-5500.