East Peak Fire Now 95% Contained

An updated infrared map of the East Peak Fire as of June 23.

The East Peak Fire is now 95 percent contained. Firefighters are growing confident that they may have the fire fully contained by next week.

The size of the fire is now estimated at 13,572 acres. The cause has been identified as a lightning strike. 11 News has confirmed that 13 homes were destroyed by the fire.

Firefighters say rain on the night of June 28 aided firefighting efforts. It gave crews a chance to mop up isolated areas that are still hot on the lower portion of East Spanish Peak. Crew say they will also take advantage of cooler temperatures June 29.

The rain did present some additional challenges. Firefighters report muddy slopes and hazardous conditions around the fire's perimeter.

Firefighters also say that it will not take long for fine fuels such as grass and small branches to dry out today. That still presents the possibility of explosive fire conditions. Because of that, firefighters say they will not declare the fire 100 percent contained until mop-up efforts in the interior of the fire perimeter are sufficiently complete.

Crews will focus today on reinforcing fire lines, preventing erosion and "speeding the return of plants and wildlife."

They will also be taking down dangerous trees near roads and trails. However, they caution that people will still need to be careful in these areas once they reopen. There may still be hazardous areas resulting from the fire. They encourage people to "look up, look down, look all around."

Hand crews, helicopters, dozens of engines and water tenders continue to be used to fight the fire. As the containment increases, those crews will gradually be released to help fight other fires.

The fire destroyed a Boy Scout camp west of Walsenburg. Scouts were eating dinner when the fire first approached the camp, and had just minutes to evacuate.

Authorities say flames reached as high as 150 feet into the air when it raged across the Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch Wednesday night.

The scouts spent the night at the Red Cross shelter at John Mall High School in Walsenburg after evacuating.

The Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center was taken off of pre-evacuation notice Wednesday morning.

The Red Cross shelter in Walsenburg has also closed as of Tuesday. They remain on standby.

At last report, the areas under mandatory evacuation status are as follows:

Road leading to the fire perimeter remain closed.
Cordova Pass Road is open.
West Peak, Apishipa, and Shafer Trails also remain closed.

To register as “Safe and Well” with the Red Cross, call 1-800-REDCROSS (733-2767) and press 5 from the menu options. You can also register at their website. They ask that you use those to inquire about a family member who has been evacuated.

East Peak Fire By JOHN WARK, Special to KKTV