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News for Norther Colorado and the world

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Crystal Fire: April 5 (Update 1:30 p.m.)

Fort Collins, CO – Last night the Rocky Mountain Type I Incident Management Team under the direction of Paul Summerfelt, Incident Commander, assumed management of the Crystal Fire.

Today, Crews continue to build line and mitigate hazards on the Crystal Fire.  This fire is currently burning in an area ten miles northwest of Masonville.  Operations today will focus on: line construction, mitigating rolling debris, and suppress hot spots around homes.   High winds predicted for this afternoon have materialized.  Helicopters worked this morning supporting ground crews with bucket drops, but are currently grounded due to wind conditions. Crews are responding to flare-ups working to suppress active fire behavior.

Evacuations – None at this time.  Please note the fire area is limited access for incident personnel and residents only. For updated information call the phone number listed above, or check www.inciweb.org.

Safety – Please be aware that fire traffic is heaviest to and from the fire area in mornings and evenings from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Quick Facts:

  • Fire Start Date: 04/01/2011
  • Cause: Under Investigation
  • Fire Size: 3,200 acres
  • Contained: 15%
  • Total Personnel: Approximately 300 with resources still arriving.
  • Additional resources: 5 crews, 3 helicopters, 27 engines
  • Unit Identifiers/Agencies: 30
  • Evacuations: See above
  • Burned Residences: 15

 

April 5, 10:17 a.m. Larimer County Emergency Information

First of all, we finally have a presentable and, we think, pretty accurate map of the fire perimeters which we now estimate to be around 3,500 acres. Go to: http://www.larimer.org/emergency/crystal_fire.pdf. and click the link. Please note this map shows addresses and lots but we cannot at this time say which homes were damaged and which weren’t. We are still working on a definitive list and need to make sure it’s as accurate as possible. Also – just because a home was within the perimeter doesn’t mean it was damaged or destroyed.

Today could be a rough ride. Last night we sent out emergency phone notifications to several areas advising of the potential for high winds and a rekindled fire situation. Thankfully, the winds did not materialize as thought but very well may today with low humidities. The forecast is for temps near 70 degrees, relative humidity in the low teens and winds 2-30 mph with gusts to 50. In favored areas because of topography, those gusts could be even higher. If the situation warrants, additional phone messages will go out with additional information or advisements and possible evacuation orders and notice of exit routes and shelter locations.

We have four 20 person hand crews on the fire now with a couple more to arrive shortly. There are more than 300 firefighters including overhead, engine crews and support personnel. We also have aircraft available which we hope won’t be grounded should the winds be too strong for safe or effective water or retardant drops. We are still, at last word, only at about 15% containment but expect to be hard at today to boost that. For the record, “containment” means that we have adequately constructed fire line in place, rocky outcrops or burned black line which is guaranteed out all around the fire perimeter(s). “Controlled” means that, even with interior heat, burning embers and so on, the line is mopped up sufficiently in from the perimeter that it will not escape the containment. It’s been a tough duty on this fire since a lot of effort has been diverted from line construction to structure protection or mitigation but line work is proceeding.

Another matter of interest: the Board of County Commissioners has just now approved the imposition of fire restrictions and a corresponding ban on fireworks. This will be in place for 30 days at which time we will review to see if it is necessary to extend the restriction for a similar or longer period. Fires will still be allowed in permanently constructed masonry or metal fire grates in campgrounds, etc. but absolutely no open fires. Check the main larimer.org/emergency page for the reprinted press release under Current Fire Restrictions.

Also, we have elected to keep our Joint Information Center staffed through this event and so if you call 498-5500 for information, you will be able to talk live with a Public Information Officer about this situation – unless the lines are tied up or it’s after hours. In that case, it will default to our recorded message.

That’s about it for right now folks. We’ll try to get this updated as soon as there is anything new to report… and hopefully that will not have anything to do with dangerous fire behavior because of winds. We shall cross our fingers and see what the day brings.

For complete information on this emergency, see http://www.larimer.org/emergency/emergency_detail.cfm?nam_id=73


 

April 5, 9:30 a.m.: Larimer County Sheriff’s Office

There were no issues last night with the Crystal Fire as winds were less than anticipated and humidity levels were up.  The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office did issue emergency notifications to area residents warning them of the wind danger and to be prepared to evacuate again if necessary.

Strong gusty winds are expected today ahead of the cold front that is moving in.  25 to 45 mile-per-hour winds gusting to 60 miles per hour are expected.  This will cause some active fire behavior.  The warm, windy and dry weather is a major concern.  The weather is expected to change again late this evening as the cold front moves in dropping temperatures and hopefully bringing some precipitation.  Residents are urged to remain cautious and be prepared to evacuate.

Efforts today will focus on structure protection and suppression around homes.  The perimeter will continue to be monitored closely and work will continue on containment lines.  Plans include laying  hoses today in order to get water into the fire area particularly in the heavy timber areas.

Helicopter support will be available again today, weather permitting, and will be concentrating on supporting ground crews as needed bringing in supplies.  Water drops will be done as needed.

The size of the fire area is now estimated at 3,200 acres, down from the previous estimate of 4,500 acres.  This is a direct result of the mapping efforts from yesterday and achieving a better understanding of the fire perimeter.  Containment is estimated at 15%.

The investigation team will be on site today as we work to understand the cause of the fire.  Roads remain closed to everyone except residents.

The Crystal Fire Information Center will be staffed today and tomorrow from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to answer questions from the public.  The phone number for the information center is 970-498-5500.  Information is also available on the Larimer County  website at www.larimer.org as well as the U.S. Forest Service’s incident information website at www.inciweb.org/incident/2161.


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