Snow, shifting winds slow Colo. wildfire’s growth |

Snow, shifting winds slow Colo. wildfire’s growth

DENVER – Snow and shifting winds slowed a wildfire in canyon country west of Fort Collins that scorched more than three square miles and forced the evacuation of 335 homes overnight Sunday.

Authorities were investigating reports that several structures, including homes, were damaged by the blaze. Officials so far have confirmed that a shed holding a motorcycle and an all-terrain vehicle was destroyed, Larimer County sheriff’s spokesman John Schulz said.

The changing weather helped the 200 or so firefighters beat back the 2,000-acre blaze to already blackened areas that had little to no fuel to burn. No containment estimates were available.

“It was pretty nice when the rain and the snow came,” Rist Canyon resident Aaron Brault told The Associated Press by phone. He said he packed bags and prepared to evacuate despite the wet weather. “We’re keeping our eye on the fire.”

The fire developed Saturday in a rugged, hilly area about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, and grew rapidly around midnight as winds increased to 50 mph, with gusts of 80 mph.

“It looked like the entire southern sky was on fire,” resident Mike Guli told KUSA-TV.

David Creapeau told the TV station he packed up a few things and left when glowing orange embers began falling on his property. Creapeau said his home appeared to have escaped damage.

Authorities ordered evacuations for 40 homes south of Buckhorn Canyon, 70 homes east of Crystal Mountain Road, and 225 homes around Redstone Canyon. Officials said about 100 homes in the Davis Ranch Road, which runs through Rist Canyon, were told to prepare to evacuate.

Smoke from the blazes spread into Fort Collins, which is about 58 miles south of Denver, and the surrounding area Sunday.

Authorities were banking on a rapidly moving cold front with rain and possible snow to help contain the fire, which erupted on a day when temperatures reached into the 80s amid strong winds and prolonged drought.

A grass fire east of Greeley on Saturday scorched about 1,900 acres before it was contained, while another blaze destroyed storage trailers and a haystack on three acres of private land, said Margie Martinez, undersheriff for Weld County.

Firefighters also responded to several smaller fires that day, including one that prompted reverse 911 calls near Peyton east of Colorado Springs, and another in dry brush along Fountain Creek in Pueblo.

The National Weather Service issued a warning on severe fire danger until the front moved through. To the south, the weather system was expected to generate gusts exceeding 80 mph along the eastern slopes of Colorado’s southeastern mountains.

In recent weeks, wildfires have temporarily forced thousands of people out of their homes in the suburban Denver and Boulder areas, charred foothills west of Golden and blackened grassland in the eastern plains. Rainfall east of the Rockies has been below average, with scant precipitation in March, which is traditionally one of the wettest months in Colorado.

In September, a wildfire near Boulder destroyed 169 homes, making it the most destructive in Colorado history.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User