Fire forces new evacs

Apr 052011
Authors: Jim Sojourner

Although winds calmed Tuesday night, new evacuations were ordered for the Crystal Fire after high winds fanned its flames and pushed fire outside of the containment perimeter.

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

“We know there has been some fire that has pushed passed the perimeter,” said fire spokeswoman Reghan Cloudman Tuesday night.

Fire activity increased to the south and to the north of the fire perimeter, Cloudman said, and efforts have been hindered by the wind throughout the day.
Five engines will be patrolling the fire area tonight.

Heat remains within the perimeter, and winds of increasing intensity have stoked the blaze and blown smoke around the region. A federal firefighting team comprised of about 300 personnel, which took over management of the fire Monday night, is responding to areas where the flames flare up.

When the Collegian went to press, the fire encompassed about 3,200 acres and was 15 percent contained in the foothill grasses and thick pine stands 10 miles northwest of Masonville on both private land and in Roosevelt National Forest, according to an incident website administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

No one has been injured.

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

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

Crews continued to build containment lines around the blaze Tuesday and worked to mitigate hazards. Two 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 picked 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 and a number of other vehicles and outbuildings.

The evacuees were allowed to return to their homes Sunday night but were told to be prepared to evacuate again if conditions changed.

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

Managing Editor Jim Sojourner can be reached at

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