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Estimated cost of battling the High Park Fire in Teller County is $2 million after 5 days; county officials ask for state wildfire emergency declaration

Crews battling a wildfire in Teller County.
Crews battling a wildfire in Teller County.(11 News Viewer Robert H.)
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 5:14 PM MDT|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 6:04 AM MDT
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TELLER COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - As a wildfire continues to burn in Teller County, county officials are asking for help from the state level.

On Monday, the Teller County Board of County Commissioners announced they are requesting the declaration of a statewide wildfire emergency. The request comes as the High Park Fire continues to grow after burning an estimated 1,600 acres. The fire was first spotted Thursday and has forced the pre-evacuation or evacuation of 580 homes, impacting about 400 people and 75 businesses. The fire is burning west of Cripple Creek.

“The Teller County Assessor’s Office reports that the total value of the evacuated properties is approximately $56.9 million, with another $216.1 million in the pre-evacuation area,” part of a news release from an official with Teller County reads.

The estimated cost of fighting this fire is about $2 million after five days. The amount could exhaust the Teller County Fire Contingency Fund.

“Depending on the severity and duration of the fire, total cost could reach $300 million, with the addition of a Federal Type I Incident Management Team, a large aerial team attack, and the numerous local departments who are providing personnel and resources to fight this fire,” the news release adds.

A town hall on the fire is scheduled for Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Cripple Creek/Victor High School.

“While we are being fiscally responsible and maximizing cost-sharing, mission success in fighting this fire and saving human lives and property is paramount,” Teller County Board Chairman Dan Williams said. “Based on the early date of this fire and our extreme drought conditions, there is a high probability that we could face our next fire with a depleted fund.”

As of Monday morning, there was about 27 percent containment of the fire.

Declaring a state of emergency would allow the access of disaster emergency funds along with the use of more state resources. A state of emergency was declared on Dec. 30, 2021, for the grass fires in Boulder County.

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