High Park Fire in Teller County 70 percent contained; all evacuations lifted
TELLER COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - Strenuous efforts by firefighters battling Teller County’s High Park Fire continue to pay off, with 70 percent containment as of Tuesday night.
All evacuations will be lifted at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The Teller County Sheriff’s Office says all returning residents must have an ID or another proof of residency such as a utility bill, lease, mail with name and address, etc.
Anyone living in the pre-evacuation zones who chose to evacuate is also safe to come home, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office said.
Firefighters may still be seen in the area.
High Park Fire quick data:
- Burning 5.5 miles west of Cripple Creek
- 1,573 acres as of May 18
- 70 percent contained as of May 18
- 180 firefighters assigned to the fire
- All evacuations and pre-evacuations lifted as of 10 a.m. May 18
- No structures damaged or lost
Map of fire perimeter and evacuation/pre-evacuation zones can be found here. The official incident Facebook page can be viewed here.
About the fire:
The High Park Fire was one of several to ignite in the Pikes Peak region Thursday and rapidly ballooned to more than 300 acres by nightfall. Smoke poured over Pikes Peak into Colorado Springs as the fire gobbled up acreage on both county and Bureau of Land Management land west of Cripple Creek, and evacuations were quickly ordered.
“Units responded very quickly from Teller County and surrounding jurisdictions,” said Matt Norton with the Bureau of Land Management, who is serving as incident commander for the fire. “Tried to set an anchor point on the heel of the fire on the west end of the fire, working around both flanks, priority being to evacuate and structure protection along the Lakemoor Drive subdivision area.
An evacuation order was issued for the entire Lakemoor neighborhood and those living between county roads 11 and 1 on Thursday night.
“We got that word out really quickly, got those folks out,” Norton said.
Norton praised the fire crews who went into battle Thursday, citing the incredible obstacles they were up against.
“Obviously, the conditions yesterday were pretty critical fire danger-wise. We’re looking at single-digit relative humidity yesterday, wind speeds excess of 40-50 mph -- pretty extreme conditions. A lot of good work was made yesterday, especially yesterday afternoon and evening once the winds died down. Crews were able to get in engine crews and then dozers on both the north and south flanks of the fire, some firing out was done on the north flank of the fire on BLM land to attempt to contain fire spread on that side, a lot of work was done in the Lakemoor subdivision side protecting structures.”
Crews successfully defended the neighborhood Thursday night.
“The fire did back down off of the rim coming down into Four Mile Creek to Lakemoor Drive. There was some burnout done around those structures. No structures have been lost at this time. There continues to be that focus down there in the Lakemoor Drive subdivision. We’re wanting to hold that critical piece on Lakemoor Drive and in Four Mile Creek, that area,” Norton said.
Friday, rapid growth in one section of the fire resulted in more evacuations.
“Yesterday afternoon, we did get a spot over Four Mile drainage that did get established to 70+ acres,” Norton said in a news conference Saturday, which can be viewed here. “With that breach, that reached one of our management action points that we pre-identified yesterday, and with that management action point, triggered the additional evacuations.”
“When [the fire] moved into the areas that are hard to fight, we can’t get hand crews around it,” Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell added.
The new evacuations as of Friday included Cripple Creek Ranches and the Mt. Pisgash area. As of Tuesday, no additional evacuations have been issued.
The fire grew by a few hundred acres over the weekend, but officials say a lot of the growth was from burnout operations conducted by firefighters.
A shelter for evacuees has been set up at Woodland Park High School. Anyone needing help with livestock could go to the Cripple Creek Fairgrounds. The Teller County Sheriff’s Office will be providing updates on their Facebook page.
Mikesell urged people living near the fire who haven’t been evacuated to remain vigilant.
“Understand that our fire conditions continue to creep up and get worse. We’re going to have winds that will sustain today -- we’re not out of the woods on this. So those folks who are on pre-evacuation -- know that you are on pre-evacuation and know that any moment you could go on evacuation, so I need you to be prepared. If you’re on the other side of Teller [County Road] 1, just know that you’re a concern. I’m not saying you’re on pre-evacuation but know that it is a concern.”
Mikesell urged everyone to sign up for Everbridge alerts in case of any future evacuation notices. Information can be found here.
“I do want to let you know, your fire departments did an amazing job last night. They’ve continued to work 20 hours now and they continue to do a good job. You have some of the best fire units in the country here,” Mikesell said. He name-checked them all:
“We have Four Mile Fire there, it started in their area, they’ve done wonderful; you have Florissant Fire Department, who’ve been strategic in the needs to get those things done; Divide Fire Department, Lake George Fire Department, Victor Fire Department, our BLM partners, Northeast Teller County Fire Department, Tallahassee Fire Department, all of our state resources, Cripple Creek Fire Department. You have about 150 personnel here at this point. You have multiple units fighting that fire for both structure and the wildfire side of it. So we’re putting everything we possibly can in front of it.”
For those wishing to donate to the firefighters on the front lines, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office says it is accepting items like water, Gatorade, eye drops and cough drops. They can be taken to the TCSO building on 11400 W. U.S. Highway 24 in Divide.
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