Bent County Fire Now 90 Percent Contained

Photo From La Junta Fire Chief Aaron W. Eveatt
By  | 

Firefighters say they have made good progress on the wildfire in Bent County. Thirty-nine fire agencies and 54 total agencies have assisted in containing the fire, which ignited Saturday afternoon.

Planes flew over the fire all day, dropping water on the flames below. The air drops and the calmer weather Wednesday made a huge difference, with fire 90 percent contained by Wednesday night. Air drops resumed at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The fire cut power to the Ft. Lyon prison Wednesday, but officials say that the power is back up at the facility; the power supply is intermittent, but the prison has backup generators available.

Officials at the prison say they hope to back up to full power by Friday. The prison did not need to be evacuated.

Inmates from the prison at Buena Vista are helping the firefighters in Bent County. They're described as low security-risk, highly-trained crews.

The fire flared up from about 11 Tuesday night until about 1 a.m. Wednesday, spreading to the south southeast of Las Animas. As of Wednesday evening, the fire has burned about 14,000 acres.

Tuesday evening firefighters did a "back burn," setting fire to the area between the wildfire and some threatened structures. Five homes were temporarily evacuated. They burned about 2,000 acres.

Air drops began at 8 a.m., and continued all day. The plane came from Kansas, and picked up water in La Junta before flying to the fire. Crews worked to make as much progress as possible Wednesday, with extremely windy conditions expected Thursday.

The fire is mostly in a river bottom, burning cottonwoods, brush and grass.

Sixty-seven firefighters are currently working to get the fire out. As of Wednesday morning, the fire is 80 percent contained.

Evacuation orders were lifted late Monday night after the fire continued to spread. At that time, people living in 80 to 100 homes were evacuated. No other evacuations have been ordered and no more are expected.

The wildfire is burning near Highway 50 about a quarter-mile west of Ft. Lyon.

Authorities reported the fire 85 percent contained late Saturday night, but the high winds overnight caused the fire to spread again.

According to the Chief of the La Junta Fire Department, one truck was burned Saturday afternoon. One firefighter also sustained some minor burns.

A deputy with Bent County told 11 News that the fire, which started around County Road 16 and County Road JJ, had only burned up about 800 acres in that area before it exploded in size overnight.

The Red Cross sent some staff to support the crews battling the fire. The Red Cross is also providing meals to those who need it.