Firefighters work to contain Larimer County wildfire

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LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. -- Wildland fires along the Front Range continue to threaten homes because of near-drought conditions.

Firefighters worked into the evening Thursday to contain a fire that burned close to 80 acres in Larimer County.

Using power tools, pic axes and shovels, firefighters with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office “mopped-up” the Hertha Ridge Fire that threatened at least a half dozen homes about 11 miles outside Berthoud when it started Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s basically like gardening. … They are just taking the dirt and stirring the heat into the dirt,” said Justin Whitesell, emergency operations manager for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.

“They don’t have a lot of water and there’s not fire hydrants up here so we’re really limited."

Walking the fire’s edge, crews continued to monitor flames that toe the line where the unscathed and the charred ground meet.

“Anything that’s right on the edge has the biggest potential with these winds and just with the ability to burn over our line … close to the fire’s edge is what we’re trying to knock out right now,” Whitesell said.

Whitesell said this is the 20th wildland fire crews in the area have dealt with in the past two weeks.

“More than usual for this time of year just 'cause of the dry conditions and higher temperatures that we’ve had,” he said.

A lack of rainfall has meant two fires in just days within a quarter-mile, threatening homes and livestock.

“The monsoonal moistures just haven’t been giving the moisture we typically see this time of year,” he said.

Whitesell said until that changes, the risk of fire remains.

While moisture is very much needed to lessen the threat of fires, storms can also present a problem.

Firefighters are still working to determine if this fire might have been caused by lightening or by human error.

No one was injured and no homes were destroyed in the fire.

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