Driven by high overnight winds, the Crystal Fire blaze west of Fort Collins has grown to encompass as many as 2,000 acres and forced the evacuation of more than 300 people.
Although a 5:30 a.m. press release said the fire had died down with the calming of last night’s high winds, wind gusts are ripping through Fort Collins this morning. According to the National Weather Service, snow and rain showers are likely for the area today, with wind gusts up to 31 miles per hour.
Smoke can still be seen rising behind Horsetooth Reservoir and clouded Fort Collins overnight and into the morning.
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 Crystal Fire 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 closed to anyone but residents removing animals from their property and will be closed to every except emergency personnel later today.
Check back for more information throughout the day.