Colorado News Roundup: Wildfires enlargen, more human remains found at ski area, skydiver recovering (07.17.16)
Here’s what’s going on around Colorado today:
WILDFIRE CONTINUES TO BURN IN SOUTHERN COLORADO
COALDALE, Colo. — Firefighters say a wildfire is continuing to burn near Coaldale, where they have it 20 percent contained and are protecting structures.
Incident commanders said Sunday that they are letting the fire burn in a nearby wilderness area because they don’t want to send firefighters into dangerous places.
People began evacuating July 10 after the fire flared up from a lightning strike several days earlier. It has burned 25 square miles.
In northern Colorado, the state’s largest fire, burning along the Colorado-Wyoming border, has blackened more than 35 square miles. The fire started June 19 and is still burning mostly out of control.
Crews have contained other fires in the state, including one that destroyed eight homes in the mountains near Boulder, where evacuees have been allowed to return.
COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT CONSIDERS DOUBLING ENTRANCE FEES
DENVER — The National Park Service is considering doubling the entrance fee at the Colorado National Monument, marking one of the steepest fee increases in the monument’s history.
The Denver Post reports that the proposed increase from $10 to $20 is part of the National Park Service’s two-year effort to help fund improvements by increasing fees at 131 of its 401 properties.
The service has estimated that all of its properties have $11.5 billion in backlogged deferred maintenance, $13.8 million of which was needed at Colorado National Monument.
The increased fees at Colorado National Monument will fund improvements inside the park. Public meetings on the proposed fees will be held in Fruita, Glade Park and Grand Junction this month.
STATE REGULATORS APPROVE DRILLING IN BATTLEMENT MESA
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — State regulators have given their approval to a company’s application to drill in the Battlement Mesa residential development.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved a proposal by Ursa Resources to drill 28 wells on one pad in the community of several thousand people in western Garfield County.
Another request to drill closer to the Colorado River and a municipal water intake is still being reviewed.
Residents say they are concerned about how close the drilling would be homes and blame nearby wells for health issues.
SKYDIVER RECOVERING AFTER HITTING PLANE DURING JUMP
DENVER — Investigators say a skydiver is recovering from serious injuries after jumping from the plane’s fuselage and hitting the back of the aircraft over Longmont.
A preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday says the pilot of the Beech E-90 King Air felt the flight controls shake and heard a thud after three skydivers jumped from the plane June 27. The pilot told investigators he was configuring the plane for a jump and had only activated a light to let the group know it was safe to open the door and spot the landing.
The Denver Post reports the plane, registered to Mile Hi Skydivers Inc., was substantially damaged, but no one on board was hurt.
TRUCK CHASE CAUSES SEVERAL SMALL FIRES
FORT MORGAN, Colo. — Authorities say a truck that was reported stolen ignited several small grass fires while it was being chased by sheriff’s deputies on Saturday.
The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office says the wrecker truck was reported stolen in Weld County. Authorities spotted the vehicle and during the slow-speed pursuit, the suspects drove for miles on flat tires, which eventually started to spark.
According to KUSA-TV, the truck burst into flames and two suspects were arrested.
CORONER IDS MAN WHO FELL TO DEATH CLIMBING CRESTONE NEEDLE
DENVER — Authorities have released the name of a man who fell 100 feet to his death while climbing the Crestone Needle in southern Colorado.
The Saguache County coroner’s office identified the man Thursday as 55-year-old Stephen Hunt, of Parker. The Denver Post reports Hunt, a married father of two teenagers, fell Sunday afternoon and his body was recovered Tuesday.
His obituary says he was an avid hiker and had climbed all of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks.
The Crestone Needle is one of the state’s hardest 14ers to climb. In September, a respected central Texas doctor was killed while climbing to the mountain’s 14,203-foot summit.
MORE HUMAN REMAINS FOUND NEAR SKI RESORT
BOULDER, Colo. — The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office says human remains found Saturday may be related to remains found inside a snow boot at a Colorado ski resort.
On June 1, an employee of the Eldora Mountain Ski Resort found the boot near the base of the mountain while working in the area. The new remains were found about three-quarters of a mile outside the front gate of the ski resort.
Investigators say they don’t believe the remains belong to a missing 20-year-old man from Lafayette who worked at the ski resort. Family and friends of the man, who went missing in January after leaving work, also say they don’t think he owned that kind of boot.
DENVER-AREA FAMILY DEAD AFTER FATAL CRASH WITH COW, SEMITRAILER
VAUGHN, N.M. — Authorities say a family from Denver is dead after their vehicle hit a cow and then a semi-tractor truck in central New Mexico.
State Police say the deadly crash occurred around 3 a.m. Saturday on U.S. 54 north of Vaughn.
According to investigators, a Saturn struck a cow in a southbound lane. The impact sent the car into the northbound lane, where it collided head-on with a semi-tractor trailer.
Police say flames erupted in both vehicles. The semi driver escaped and tried to free the other driver.
Authorities say the driver of the car and two occupants suffered fatal injuries.
— The Associated Press
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