On its 11th day, the High Park fire in Larimer County has grown to 59,845 acres with 55 percent containment, authorities said this evening.
The Larimer County Sheriff's Department said 1,911 personnel are working on the fire in shifts around the clock, and 17 helicopters are tackling the blaze.
Four large tankers, each carrying 8,000 gallons of retardant, hit a spot fire north of Poudre Canyon hard today, trying to keep the blaze beyond the northwest perimeter from moving even farther past its containment line.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Bernie Pineda said "slop over" from the 200-acre fire on Sheep Mountain was spotted between 9 and 9:30 a.m., expanding the northwest boundaries of the High Park fire.
"We jumped on it quickly and we are confident it will not be an issue," Pineda said during the Tuesday afternoon briefing about the fire. "We have been using heavy tankers throughout the day. They have come four times today."
Notifications were sent to 95 telephone numbers today alerting residents to be ready to evacuate in the Rustic community along Colorado Highway 14 from the Pingree Park Road west to mile marker 90, just west of the Glen Echo Resort, the Sheriff's Department said tonight.
Because of the location of the fire, residents would have to evacuate west on Colorado Highway 14 to Walden, which is about 55 miles.
When that fire jumped Poudre Canyon last Thursday, it forced the evacuation of nearby Glacier View Meadows neighborhoods and put others on standby.
Thousands of residents, including livestock, remain on evacuation, some in places where the fire has moved on. Utility crews are restoring power and phone lines in those areas.
The county will hold a meeting for Glacier View Meadows residents at gate 8, at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Residents who have evacuated livestock to The Ranch Events Center in Loveland can attend either of two informational meetings on Wednesday, at 4 p.m. or 6 p.m., inside the grandstands at Ranch-Way Feeds Indoor Arena.
The High Park fire is the third-largest in Colorado history, and the most expensive, currently estimated at a cost of $17.2 million
The blaze has grown steadily since it was started by lightning on June 9 and would replace 2002's Missionary Ridge fire near Durango if it burns more than 73,000 acres.
The High Park fire has resulted in one fatality, Linda Steadman, 62, who died at her home on 9123 Old Flowers Road.
Incident commander Bill Hahnenberg said crews have built 49 miles of constructed and contained fire lines.
The top priority of crews is "making sure the fire doesn't ... threaten homes," he said.
After two days of searing heat and single-digit humidities, Wednesday's weather should assist firefighters, as a cold front cools the high temperature to about 75 degrees, about 20 degrees cooler. Winds are expected to back off slightly, as well, with gusts out of the northwest up to 20 mph.
Weather conditions in the area of the Springer fire, which is burning in Teller and Park counties west of Colorado Springs, should be similar. The Springer fire has scorched 1,100 acres.
Heat has fed the fire and challenged crows battling the blaze.
As critical fire weather makes fire behavior more dangerous and unpredictable, it taxes the energy and stamina of firefighters.
Wildland firefighters can burn 4,000 to 6,000 calories per day and need 2-3 gallons of fluids, similar to soldiers in hot weather conditions, the Inter Canyon Fire Rescue said in a tweet.
Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822 or email@example.com
High park update
The latest Tuesday on the High Park fire:
Containment: 50 percent
Homes lost: 189
Aerial resources: 17 helicopters, 4 heavy air tankers
Evacuations: Pre-evacuation orders issued to residents along Colorado 14 from Pingree Park Road to Glen Echo and north along County Road 69 to Goodell Corner.
Cost to date to fight the fire: $14.7 million