Competition for resources at 3 Colorado wildfires | AspenTimes.com

Competition for resources at 3 Colorado wildfires

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. – Fire managers are competing for resources as three major wildfires continue to burn in Colorado.

Boulder fire and police spokeswoman Kim Kobel said Wednesday a wildfire burning west of Boulder is now within a mile and a half of the city, but there is no immediate danger to city residents.

She said federal, state and local officials are deciding how to allocate resources to fight the fires.

In northern Colorado, where the 136-square-mile High Park Fire has destroyed 257 homes and killed one woman, fire managers offered to help with other fires.

“We are going to help those folks out,” said incident commander Beth Lund.

There are currently more than 1,800 people helping fight the fire, which is continuing to burn in the mountains west of Fort Collins.

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The White House announced Wednesday that President Barack Obama will tour the scene on Friday and thank firefighters battling some of the worst fires to hit the West in decades.

Dave Joly, spokesman for the FBI, said federal investigators are working closely with local, state, and federal law enforcement to determine if any of the fires were deliberately set or resulted from criminal activity. He did not elaborate.

Boulder authorities began evacuating 28 households due to a new wildfire Tuesday afternoon. They also sent nearly 2,500 pre-evacuation notices affecting an unknown number of residents for the fire, which has destroyed more than 230 acres.

“The fire danger right now is unprecedented. If an evacuation order goes out, we’re asking people to get out right away,” Kobel said.

Boulder fire officials asked residents who live in pre-evacuation areas near open space areas to turn on their sprinklers as soon as possible and leave them on.

“While the fire is not threatening homes or structures at this time, turning the sprinklers on will help homeowners create defensible space around their houses. This will help firefighters if the fire continues to burn eastward,” the Office of Emergency Management said it an emergency alert.

The fire started southwest of Boulder after a storm with lightning but little rain moved through the area, county officials said.

In Colorado Springs, mandatory evacuation notices went out for more than 32,000 residents after the Waldo Canyon fire spread into the city limits.

El Paso County sheriff’s spokeswoman Jackie Kirby said Wednesday that at least six subdivisions were included in the evacuation orders, along with residents of the Air Force Academy.

The evacuation area extended all the way to Interstate 25, the major thoroughfare that runs north and south through the city.

She said the fire broke out Saturday west of Colorado Springs and spread quickly into the city limits.

“It’s an extremely active fire. It just flew,” she said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper said the blaze was “almost surreal.”

“It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine,” Hickenlooper said after flying over the fire late Tuesday. “You look at that, and it’s like nothing I’ve seen before.”