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Colorado: High Park Fire slows down

Air support helps protect threatened homes in the area; one death reported, 118 structures destroyed or damaged

High Park Fire map

Summit Voice contributor Mark Newby created this updated map of the High Park Fire in Larimer County, Colorado. Click on the image for more maps and information at http://www.blackicegeospatial.com.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After two days of explosive growth, the High Park Fire in Larimer County, Colorado, slowed dramatically Monday, as the winds died back and aerial firefighting units, including five heavy air tankers, made a concerted effort to halt the advancing flames.

In an early morning tweet, the Larimer County Sheriff’s office said the fire’s footprint is now at 43,400 acres (about 67 square miles), “with some containment.”

“We should have a little bit of good news at the (Tuesday) morning briefing,” said Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, explaining that crews were able to establish an anchor point and start building hand lines at the southwest corner of the fire.

Regular updates are posted at the Larimer Sheriff website.

Real-time updates from the Larimer Sheriff’s Office are streaming on Twitter at @LarimerSheriff.

Information from other nonofficial sources, including media outlets, residents and others is streaming on Twitter at the #HighParkFire hashtag.

Links to other information resources, including evacuations and air quality are at  http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2904/.

Officially, the fire was at 41,140 acres (about 60 square miles) and still at zero percent containment Monday evening, but that may change at Tuesday’s first briefing, Smith indicated.

Areas of concern are at the northeastern and southeastern corners of the fire. Smith said warmer and drier weather is expected Tuesday, along with southwest winds of about 18 mph.

Some homes are still at risk within the fire perimeter, and Smith said property protection remains a primary focus, with helicopters making targeted bucket drops of water to protect those structures.

Officials also confirmed Monday that longtime resident Linda Steadman perished in her cabin along Old Flowers Road on the first day of the fire. Smith said several emergency calls were made to the residence and described how firefighters tried to reach Steadman’s cabin in the midst of a raging firestorm, only to be turned back by the fierce flames.

“A firefighter tried to get to the cabin … the area was engulfed in flames … he saw the structure in flames,” Smith said, adding that Steadman’s family had been notified and that they were comfortable with the information being released.

The family released a statement saying that Steadman died in the cabin she loved, and thanking firefighters for their efforts in battling the High Park Fire.

Officials also said they think lightning was the source of ignition for the High Park Fire.

Destroyed and damaged structures were confirmed in Rist Canyon, Paradise Park, Stove Prairie, Poudre Park, Old Flowers, Stratton Park, Kings Canyon and Cloudy Pass. There may also be structure damage in other locations, including Soldier Canyon and Mill Canyon.

Monday’s firefighting efforts included 400 firefighters on the ground, along with 5 single engine air tankers, five heavy air tankers, two Type 1 heavy helitankers and one Blackhawk helicoper. Approximately 15 engines are on scene.

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