Firefighters in Colorado continued working on two wildfires in red flag weather conditions on Thursday with moisture and cooler weather on the way.
High Park fire
The High Park fire, burning in Teller County about 5.5 miles west of Cripple Creek, has scorched about 1,572 acres, or about 2.5 square miles since starting on May 12. The fire is 87% contained, fire officials said on Thursday. About 360 people are working on the fire.
A red flag warning for critical fire safety concerns was posted Thursday by the National Weather Service from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for widespread areas of Colorado, including the fire area where temperatures were in the upper 70s with about 13% humidity and winds gusting to around 38 mph.
“Cooler temperatures and precipitation in the form of rain and snow are expected for the weekend,” fire officials said.
Hotshot crews on Thursday continued working east of Booger Red Hill and Fourmile Creek, said Dan Dallas, incident commander, in a Thursday update.
Fire officials urge the public to remain vigilant and use caution when traveling on roads adjacent to the fire area. All road closures and evacuations on the fire have been lifted.
The Plumtaw fire is buring 7 miles north of Pagosa Springs. An evacuation order for the Lost Valley of the San Juans area, in northern Archuleta and southern Mineral counties, remains in effect.
The 735-acre fire is 0% contained and 184 people are working on the fire. The cost of battling the fire is $1.1 million to date, fire officials said Thursday.
On Wednesday, crews secured containment line off of Fourmile and Plumtaw roads. Cloud cover aided firefighters Wednesday, but critical fire conditions, and a red flag warning — with hot, dry and windy weather — were posted on Thursday for the area.
Firefighters were working Thursday to stop the fire from crossing Fourmile Road.
“Fire managers have to practice risk-based decision making and keeping our firefighters and the public safe is the number one priority,” said Incident Commander Brad Pietruszka, in a news release. “Potential still exists for the fire to cross Fourmile Road, but well-rested crews are better prepared to make good, safe and effective decisions.”
At about 3 p.m. Wednesday, lightning sparked a grass fire at the entrance to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
Multiple fire agencies responded to the 306-acre Medano fire, which was 100% contained on Thursday.
Great Sand Dunes has reopened the park as of 8:15pm. The 306-acre Medano Fire is 80% contained. Fire crews will continue to work through the night until it is fully contained. Great Sand Dunes would like to thank all who helped keep our staff and visitors safe. pic.twitter.com/Sn7UeZ446P
— Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (@GreatDunesNPS) May 19, 2022
The fire burned through brush and grass west of the park entrance road. No structures were burned. Inbound park traffic was shut down temporarily and the park reopened at about 8:15 p.m.
Firefighters with the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Alamosa Fire Department, Mosca/Hooper Fire Department and the San Luis Valley Interagency Fire Management Unit worked on the fire.
Click markers for details, use buttons to change what wildfires are shown. Map data is automatically updated by government agencies and could lag real-time events. Incident types are numbered 1-5 — a type 1 incident is a large, complex wildfire affecting people and critical infrastructure, a type 5 incident is a small wildfire with few personnel involved. Find more information about incident types at the bottom of this page.