Apr 072011
Authors: Jim Sojourner

Roadblocks near the 3,200-acre Crystal Fire will be lifted at noon today.

According to a press release, the Sheriff requests that individuals limit unnecessary traffic in the area because roads are slippery and heavy emergency equipment will still be active on the roads. Firefighters will also be using them to move around the fire area.

People should also remember, the release says, that many of the roads are on private property so deputies will be patrolling to enforce trespassing laws.

Crews hope to have the blaze fully contained by Friday, after cool, wet weather allowed firefighting crews to make significant progress Wednesday.

Although officials expected to have the fire 60 percent contained by Wednesday night, according to an incident website maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, the fire is at 45 percent containment, burning 10 miles northwest of Masonville. Fire activity was listed as creeping and smoldering, with low growth potential.

Crews consider a fire 100 percent contained when lines have been completed around the flames and when they’re confident it won’t overrun their perimeter; it doesn’t mean the fire is out.

The high winds that forced new evacuations Tuesday evening calmed later that night, and residents were allowed to return to their homes after 10 a.m. Wednesday. No structures were damaged, but roadblocks remain in place to allow only residents into the area.

During a press conference at the National Guard Armory in Fort Collins on Wednesday, Gov. John Hickenlooper thanked CSU’s Colorado State Forest Service and local firefighters. But he warned that a “heavy burden” could be placed on fire crews in the coming months due to low levels of precipitation outside of the mountains.

“We’re as ready as we can be as far as having contingencies laid out and plans in place, but this is going to be a challenging summer,” he said.

Hickenlooper said a state wildfire preparedness plan is already in place. On Sunday, Hickenlooper directed $1.7 million in state funds to help cover firefighting costs at the Crystal Fire. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay up to 75 percent of the total bill.

CSU President Tony Frank was also at the conference.

Fire restrictions are in place for Larimer County until May 5, banning open fires and fireworks. Contained open fires, such as those in grills or in permanent fireplaces, are allowed.

The Crystal Fire, which started Saturday evening and exploded to more than 4,500 acre, is burning on both private land and in Roosevelt National Forest.

Managing Editor Jim Sojourner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:17 am

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