The Larimer County commissioners approved Thursday a Declaration of Emergency for the unincorporated part of the county affected by the 3,200-acre Crystal Fire burning 10 miles northwest of Masonville.
According to a news release, the declaration activates the response and recovery aspects of any and all applicable local and inter-jurisdictional emergency plans and authorizes the furnishing of aid and assistance under such plans from whatever sources may be available and accessible.
â€œThe declaration or lack of a declaration does not affect the response to the incident, it relates more to who is going to pay for the costs of the incident, and that is often determined days later when the nature of the incident and the ownership of the land are determined in consultation with state and federal authorities,â€ said Commissioner Steve Johnson in the release.
Issuing a declaration earlier, without good information, Johnson said, would not have been advantageous.
â€œLarimer County responds immediately to natural disasters fully and completely within the limitations of keeping our responders safe,â€ he added.
About 425 personnel continued to work on building containment lines around the fire Thursday, in addition to clearing debris and finding and extinguishing flaring hotspots. Helicopters supported ground crews with bucket drops.
An incident website managed by the U.S. Forest Service said ground crews are making good progress.
Officials expect the fire, which was 45 percent contained Thursday night, to be fully contained today. It is burning on private land and in Roosevelt National Forest.
The website lists the fire as creeping and smoldering with low growth potential.
A press release from the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team issued Thursday afternoon said weather played a significant role in aiding firefighting efforts Wednesday but said the fire was still active under downed vegetation and snow, with flames occasionally visible.
The fire started small Saturday night, but high winds whipped the fire to encompass more than 4,500 acres. It torched at least 15 homes but no one was injured. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.
Managing Editor Jim Sojourner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.