FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Galena Fire grew to 750 to 1,000 acres late Friday. The Poudre Fire Authority says it was about five percent contained and there were 100 firefighters on the scene.
They were looking forward to significantly cooler weather, less wind and the potential for rain showers possibly mixed with a little bit of snow Saturday.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued Friday afternoon as a result of the wildfire west of Fort Collins near Horsetooth Reservoir.
According to an emergency information website run by Larimer County, “the strong gusty winds continue to be a problem.”
The Galena fire, originally called the Soldier Canyon fire, started around 11:45 a.m. near the visitor center for the Lory State Park north of the reservoir, said Patrick Love of the Poudre Fire Authority.
Evacuation notices went out for residents living north and west of Lory State Park. This included residents in Red Cedar Drive and Galena Court, Love said.
About 281 evacuation notices were sent out, Christensen said, although that number includes multiple phone lines and doesn’t necessarily mean 281 homes were told to evacuate.
Additional evacuation notices have been issued for residents south of the fire. The area affected is north of Larimer County Road 38E. This includes all feeder streets to Shoreline Drive in the vicinity of Inlet Bay and north up to and including the Continental Circle area.
Christensen said 579 notices were sent in that area. If you live in the area, “be prepared to go if notified,” Christensen said.
It is not now known how many homes this evacuation notice involves. The Cache la Poudre Elementary School gym in Laporte was designated as the evacuation center. The Red Cross has set up a shelter.
The mandatory evacuation order was canceled for people who live in Soldier Canyon Estates Friday night. It remained in effect, though, for residents on the south side of Horsetooth Reservoir.
Currently there are road blocks at Lodgepole and Co. Rd 23 on the north end of the fire and at Shoreline Drive and 38E and Skyline and 38E on the south part of the fire evacuation area.
On the south end, residents are being allowed in with escorts to retrieve medicines, but they cannot stay until the evacuation is lifted. An information hotline has been established at 970-498-5500.
Love said the winds were “extremely erratic” and pushed the fire close to several homes around noon. The fire then moved south toward Horsetooth Mountain Park.
No homes have been damaged in the fire and no injuries have been reported.
Nick Christensen of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said 281 notifications have been sent out to residents in the area. About 50 homes have been evacuated.
The National Weather service reported winds are between six and 16 mph with gusts up to 24 mph. The Poudre Fire Authority said those gusts would likely aid in the spread of the flames.
Winds will likely continue Friday night as a cold front moves into the area, but temperatures Saturday are expected to drop into the 50s said Chief Meteorologist Dave Fraser. The cold front will also bring rain showers for the Front Range, which may help firefighter’s efforts.
Thirty-three units from six different agencies are responding to the fire. Love said no aircraft support is available, but an air tanker has been requested.
Firefighters hope the wind will die down to help firefighters get a handle on the fire.
SkyFox flew over the fire and found the north side of the fire appears to have calmed down, but the south side is more active.
The fire crept right up to several homes on the north side. Love said firefighters were able to save three structures including two homes.
Love said firefighters are now worried about the south side of the fire as it moves closer to several subdivisions near Horsetooth Mountain Park. The park has been evacuated, Christensen said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Firefighters plan to hold a news conference about the fire Saturday morning.
Smoke advisory issued; Residents gather to watch fire
Larimer County Department of Health and Environment released a preliminary smoke advisory warning the elderly and people with breathing problems to stay indoors.
Around 2 p.m., the wind shifted east and has been blowing smoke over the city of Fort Collins.
Residents are urged to avoid strenuous activity while the smoke is present.
Hundreds of people have gathered on the east side of the reservoir to watch the fire.
Many are evacuated residents and some are just curious onlookers. Emergency responders have asked that people avoid the area so that roads will be open for fire vehicles.
Second fire burns brush in Laporte
A smaller fire was reported in Laporte at Eddylane and County Road 54G just after 1 p.m.
The fire is only a few acres in size and no structures are threatened, Love said.
Firefighters do not believe it is related to the Galena Fire.The cause has not yet been determined.