West Fork Fire Aided By High Winds In Colorado
A massive forest fire in Colorado is being pushed through even faster by high winds, officials say.
The fire–which is actually a combination of three different fires that have merged–has already claimed over 75,150 acres of land across West Fork, Windy Pass and Papoose. Dry weather conditions are also giving the fires a boost, and several homes have already been lost. Firefighters are working to get a modicum of control over the blaze, but say they don’t hold out much hope of doing so anytime soon.
“This is a significant fire, with significant problems,” said Pete Blume, West Fork Complex incident commander. “You will not see significant gains until we get some help from the weather. Every day it doesn’t run at South Fork is a good thing. I have to say, things are looking better but by no means secure.”
Close to 900 people are currently battling the fires, including air support, but the heavy winds have made it difficult for helicopters to get in a good position. So far, the fires have cost $2.2 million just to battle, and that’s not taking into account the amount of damages residents will see, or the loss nearby residents will suffer as the tourist areas become ghost towns this summer.
The fires were all separately started on and around June 5 by lightning strikes and soon raged out of control; officials estimate that nearly 1,000 people have been evacuated, with no end in sight. It’s the largest fire in recorded history in that area.
Image: Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post