Apr 032011
Authors: Jim Sojourner

Snow and shifting winds are assisting firefighters against the 2,000-acre Crystal Fire burning in the mountains west of Fort Collins.

According to a press release, operations against the fire have been stepped up this morning, and the about 200 personnel on scene today will be working to keep the public and firefighters safe, control the fire, set a perimeter and begin damage assessment.

About 300 people have been evacuated and structures have been damaged, but the extent and number have yet to be determined.

Snow has begun falling in the area and shifting winds are pushing the fire back on itself, aiding firefighting efforts, the release said. According to the National Weather Service, snow and rain showers are likely today, with wind gusts up to 31 miles per hour.

Smoke can still be seen rising behind Horsetooth Reservoir, mixing with the incoming storm clouds.

Residents of the mountain homes affected by the fire are being evacuated to Big Thompson Elementary School in Loveland and Cache La Poudre Elementary School in Laporte. Davis Ranch Road and Rist Canyon have been placed on alert for a possible evacuation.

Animals displaced by the fire can be taken to the Livestock Pavilion at the Ranch. The Larimer Humane Society is also providing temporary shelter for pets and can be reached at 970-226-3647.

The blaze started Saturday afternoon on private property and encompassed only about 25 acres as the sun set. Firefighters had the fire at about 30 percent containment before wind gusts as high as 50 miles per hour whipped the flames out of control.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Roads in the area are now shut down to anyone but emergency workers and residents are asked not to try to return to their homes.

Check back for more information throughout the day.

 Posted by at 3:54 am

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