Fire caused by resident burning leaves and twigs
Chief Merlin Green of the Loveland Fire Department began Monday afternoon’s press conference by saying the fire has covered 900 acres and is 20 percent contained. The fire, while not as active as yesterday, is still quite active. The most active area of the fire is moving to the west-northwest. Three helicopters and four air tankers are on the fire with more than 100 firefighters on the line. The hot, dry weather, coupled with steep rocky terrain make work difficult.
Green supplied the addresses of the two houses that were destroyed. The first was at were at 1497 Turkey Walk Trail and the second at 1784 James Park Trail. An aerial survey of the four mile radius that was evacuated shows 200 structures, many of which are outbuildings.
Green also said that the cause of the fire has been determined. A resident burning yard waste allowed the fire to get out of control. When asked if criminal charges might be filed against the person or persons who started the fire, Green turned the microphone over to Major Justin Smith of the Larimer County Sheriff’s office. Smith said that investigator’s have been talking to witnesses and gathering information, but had not been in contact with the parties under suspicion and he would not disclose any names at this time. In response to the question of criminal charges, Smith said that was still a possibility and that property owners who had been harmed might proceed with civil actions. Smith also said that a fire ban is being discussed for the county. He pointed out that the available firefighting resources are already tapped out and the county would be hard pressed to fight another fire of this magnitude.
Reporters also asked Smith how many have been evacuated and whether they would forcibly evacuate those who have ignored the order. Smith said it is not possible to determine the number of people. Many of the structures in the survey may not be full time residences and many are outbuildings so that making a determination is difficult. He said that those who have refused to evacuate will not be forced to leave their property. However, they have been told that it may not be possible to help them if the fire reaches their property.
Representatives of the Red Cross and the Larimer County Humane Society went in front of the TV cameras to provide information on the help they are providing. The evacuee shelter in Loveland will operate until it is no longer needed. The center for the Fourmile Canyon Fire was closed this afternoon.
The Humane Society is taking in cats and dogs to house and can house animals up to goat size. The society can also go into the fire area to check on animals and, along with the sheriff’s office has been checking on larger livestock. To date, there are no reports of any animals having been casualties of the fire.
Operational command and control of the fire operations will be transferred to a FEMA Incident Management Team at 6 p.m. this evening.
Update at 5 p.m. A firefighter from the Bonneville Hotshots has been taken to McKee Hospital.