Winds could stoke fire

Apr 042011
Authors: Jim Sojourner

New evacuations have been ordered after high winds and warm weather fanned the flames of the Crystal Fire Tuesday.

As of 6:30 p.m., residents of Moondance Way, Stringtown Gulch, Redtail Way, Ohana Way, Lightning Ridge Way, Deer Path Way and lower Windsong Roads have been encouraged to evacuate to the Red Cross emergency shelter set up at Walk Clark Middle School at 2605 Carlisle Dr. in Loveland.

“We know there has been some fire that has pushed passed the perimeter,” she said.

The evacuations are precautionary, according to a press release issued by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department. Roads in the area are closed to all but emergency workers.

The fire encompasses about 3,200 acres and is 15 percent contained in the foothill grasses and thick pine stands 10 miles northwest of Masonville, according to an incident website administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

Fire spokeswoman Reghan Cloudman said the fire activity has increased to the south and to the north of the fire perimeter and said efforts have been hindered by the wind throughout the day.

Depending on the wind conditions, she said, firefighting efforts overnight may not be possible except for patrols.

Heat remains within the perimeter and winds of increasing intensity have increased smoke visibility in the region. A federal firefighting team, which took over management of the fire last night, of about 300 personnel is responding to areas where the fire is flaring up.

Larimer County and the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests have put fire restrictions in place.

Earlier today, crews continued to build containment line around the blaze and mitigate hazards. Helicopters supported ground crews early in the day but were grounded by high winds.

Cloudman said the air support made use of lucky conditions to drop as many buckets of water as possible before winds flared up in the afternoon.

The fire started Saturday night, encompassing only about 25 acres as the sun set. Winds upward of 50 miles per hour whipped up the flames overnight, however, and the fire grew to burn about 4,500 acres, forcing 336 people to evacuate the area Sunday. The fire burned at least 15 homes, but no one was injured.

For more information, residents can contact the Crystal Fire Joint Information Center at 970-398-5500.

 Posted by at 4:15 pm

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