Spring Fire grows to over 105,000 acres, nearly 1,000 firefighters on scene

COSTILLA COUNTY, Colo. -- The Spring Fire burning in southern Colorado continued to explode in size as acreage reached 105,704 as of Friday morning, according to fire officials.

Photo: South Metro Fire

This makes it the third largest wildfire in state history after the Hayman Fire in 2002 and the West Fork Fire complex (technically three separate fires that merged) in 2013.

986 people are fighting the fire, which is 35 percent contained. Crews are dealing with hot, dry and windy weather conditions.

A tweet posted by officials posted Monday night said that 104 homes have been destroyed by the fire and 61 are intact.

The Spring Fire is burning about five miles east of Fort Garland in Costilla and Huerfano Counties, about 160 miles south of Denver. It was reported Wednesday afternoon.

52-year-old Jesper Jorgensen is in custody for investigation of arson related to the fire. He was arrested on Thursday and is being held at the Costilla County Jail. Jorgensen is a Danish citizen; ICE said Sunday that it has placed an immigration detainer on him.

Mandatory evacuations include:

  • Wagon Creek
  • Forbes Park
  • Tres Valles
  • Paraise Acres
  • Raspberry Mountain
  • Pine Haven
  • Cuchara Valley
  • Navajo Ranch
  • Majors Ranch
  • School Creek
  • Wahotoya Valley
  • Little Kansas
  • East Spanish Peaks
  • Mesa
  • The west side of Shangri La
  • Residences along Huerfano County Road 530 and south to Highway 160 (including Vega Road near Navajo)
  • The area north and east of Trinchera Ranch Road and south of Highway 160 in the Fort Garland area (the town of Fort Garland itself is not included in the evacuation order)
  • The area north of and including both sides of County Road 362, south to the Huerfano County line (including some communities mentioned above)

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Pre-evacuations include:

  • La Veta
  • Red Wing
  • Chama
  • Malachite
  • Gardner
  • Badito
  • Black Mountain
  • Aspen Mountain
  • Libre
  • El Toro
  • CL&L
  • Buffalo Ranch
  • Eagle Flat Ranch
  • Cuchara Pass Ranches
  • Timber Creek Ranch
  • Timber Ridge at Cordova Pass
  • Spanish Peak Ranch Estates

Huerfano County Emergency Management expanded pre-evacuation orders Tuesday evening to include much of the county north of Highway 69. Click here to view a map of the expanded pre-evacuation area.

Las Animas County issued its first pre-evacuation notice Wednesday. The notice includes several areas mentioned above, including south of the Huerfano County line to County Road 42, east to County Road 21.7 and west to Highway 12.

Shelters have been established at the Huerfano County Community Center in Walsenburg and the the Community Center in Trinidad.

An evacuation shelter has also been established at the Blanca/Fort Garland Community Center. A community meeting with updates on the fire is held at the community center at 1 p.m. every day.

Animals are being sheltered at the La Veta 4-H Barn located at 401-499 Moore Avenue in La Veta. A secondary location for residents to take their animals has been established at the Las Animas County Fairgrounds in Trinidad.

Authorities are in the process of establishing a disaster assistance center for affected residents.

Highway 160 remains closed between La Veta and Fort Garland due to fire activity along the road and there is no estimate of reopening at this time. Colorado Highway 69 closed Monday evening between 5 miles north of Walsenburg and the Huerfano/Custer County line. Highway 12 is also closed in the Cuchara Valley.

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