Wild Horse Fire off Highway 115 is 60 percent contained, burning on Fort Carson as of Wednesday night
Crews are making progress on a wildfire burning in El Paso County.
EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - Crews continue to gain containment on a brush fire that started burning in El Paso County off Highway 115 and moved onto Fort Carson property.
The Wild Horse Fire, burning almost entirely on Fort Carson, was 60 percent contained Wednesday evening. The last estimated size of the fire was about 670 acres.
The fire sparked just before 2 p.m. Sunday near Wild Horse Road on a gusty afternoon while a red flag warning was in effect. The area is about 11 miles south of South Academy Boulevard.
“It was reported initially as an outside fire. Unknown as to if it started at a home or directly at that intersection,” said Capt. Mike Smaldino with the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
“It was a small start, but it grew very quick and grew very big very quick."
By 2:15 p.m. on Sunday, a small smoke plume could be seen from several miles away. By 2:30, that smoke plume was growing larger and the flames were getting closer to the roadway. Law enforcement began shutting down the highway before 3 p.m., closing a 30-mile stretch from South Academy in Colorado Springs to the town of Penrose. Mandatory evacuations swiftly followed.
Winds were already topping 50 mph at the start of the fire.
The fire started on the west side of Highway 115 but soon jumped the road and began burning in a training area on Fort Carson located south of gate six. Where the fire is burning on Fort Carson is strictly rangeland and is not near the main area where homes and businesses are located.
Only a tiny percentage of the fire -- a Fort Carson spokesperson estimated about 25 acres -- burned west of the highway off Fort Carson property.
There is currently no cause confirmed, but considering there was no lightning in the area, a human cause is very likely.
Early on in the fire, a 30-mile stretch of Highway 115 was closed and remained shut down for more than 12 hours. The roadway reopened ahead of the Monday morning rush hour, then closed again for a few hours Monday afternoon so helicopters could do water drops. Fort Carson says more aerial operations are planned for Tuesday, but the highway is expected to remain opened. Drivers should expect to see active fire and smoke from Highway 115 over the next several days.
Mandatory evacuations put in place at the time the fire started were lifted Monday morning. At last report, the area where the evacuation order was in effect, Highway 115 and Turkey Creek Road north to Highway 115 and Roca Roja Circle, remained under a pre-evacuation status. The homes are all located on the west side of the highway.
In this update with 11 News reporter Kasia Kerridge around 9:15 a.m. Monday, you can see the charred land around the highway, as well as helicopters doing water drops.
The fire is burning in trees and brush in canyonland. Firefighters have conducted several burnout operations to help rid the fire of fuel.
Crews from CSFD, Fort Carson, El Paso County Wildland, Highway 115, Security, Cimarron Hills, Tri-Lakes, U.S. Forest Service and Westcott fire departments initially assisted with the wildfire, as well as Colorado Springs Utilities.
“In a few hours, we were able to get 100 firefighters here,” Smaldino said, praising the quick response during those critical first hours.
As of Tuesday, Fort Carson has taken over the firefighting, with assistance from one forestry crew from the U.S. Forest Service-Pikes Peak District. The focus Tuesday is on interior hotspots.
As of Tuesday morning, no structures have been lost, and none are currently threatened.
“We did set up structure protection on one structure, which was the former Wild Horse restaurant,” Smaldino said. “... The fire went around it and it wasn’t affected.”
Nighttime view of the fire Monday evening:
Below is roughly where the fire started:
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