Residents returning to neighborhoods in the fire area
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The High Park Fire in Larimer County could be fully contained as soon as Sunday, July 1, as crews patrol the interior of the fire to extinguish a few remaining hotspots. They’ll get help from a Cobra helicopter equipped with video and infrared sensing equipment to focus the mop-up efforts.
The remote sensing data will be used tactically to guide firefighters to remaining heat pockets around structures and within unburned islands in the interior of the burn area.
Firefighters tried to reach long-time resident Linda Steadman in the early stages of the conflagration, but were unable to get near enough her cabin to save her, according Sheriff Justin Smith.
Officials also significantly upped the estimate of destroyed and damaged homes and other structures from 18 to more than 100. The fire has started to creep down into the Front Range foothills just west of Fort Collins, but the sheriffs office emphasized that no evacuation notices or alerts have been issued for that area.
The start of the fire has been traced to a lightning strike, presumably during thunderstorms that hit the area last Thursday and possibly igniting a stump or log that smoldered for a couple of days before sparking the biggest Colorado wildfire in recent memory.
More than 400 firefighters on the ground got massive air support in their efforts to contain the blaze, as five large air tankers doused forests and grasslands with flame retardant. Helicopters also assisted with pinpoint bucket drops, and fire activity subsided slightly Monday morning.
As of 4 p.m. fire crews were focusing with the northeast area of the fire, near Bonner Peak and the Glacier View area.