​Colorado Wildfires Become Most Destructive In State History

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June 19, 2012

The Colorado wildfires are 15 miles from Fort Collins on Monday, but the most destructive fire in state history largely stayed put — even though temperatures hit 100 degrees across the state.

“We were very fortunate today,” Jennifer Hillmann, spokeswoman for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, told the Los Angeles Times. “Compared to yesterday, the winds were very calm. That did help us quite a bit.”

Winds of about 50 mph grounded firefighters’ aerial fleet Sunday as they battled the 58,046-acre fire, currently ravaging a heavily forested area that hasn’t seen a huge fire for about 150 years.

But choppers went back in the air Monday to help the 1,748 firefighters battling the blaze, which has remained 45% contained over the last couple of days.

Eight homes burned in an evacuated area around Buckhorn Canyon and Redstone Creek, Hillmann said, bringing the number of destroyed structures to 189. Fire officials have said they expect the number to grow; so far, they’ve not been able to survey all the areas overwhelmed by the blaze.

“Yesterday really serves as a reminder … this isn’t a single battle; this is a campaign,” Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said Monday, according to the Denver Post. “We are going to have some good days. We are going to have some tough days.”

Officials also boosted their security in the fire zone after police arrested a man Sunday they said was posing as a firefighter; Hillmann said there were still no confirmed reports of looting.

She said police were conducting more patrols, the National Guard was positioned at roadblocks, and officials had increased their “video surveillance,” though she wouldn’t say what that entailed.

Hillmann also said officials got a false-alarm looting call when a homeowner sneaked into the fire zone to get some things from his house.

No new evacuation notices were issued Monday. Officials have sent out 3,096 notices since the fire started and lifted 1,199 of them.