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Colorado fire burns 14,000 acres in one day, forces evacuations

June 10, 2012|By Matt Pearce

It started as a two-acre fire in the rugged High Park, Colo., area early Saturday morning. But in just one day, winds fanned it into a 14,000-acre blaze that has damaged or destroyed 18 buildings and forced residents to evacuate.

"This is the fire we always worried we might have," Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said at a news conference Saturday night, according to the Denver Post.

The fire, thought to have high potential for more growth, is sweeping the rough land about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, which is filled with trees killed by bark beetles, officials said.

Authorities have given more than 1,500 evacuation notifications, sometimes with the fire at their backs.

"We have planned for and trained for fires in every neighborhood," Smith said during a Sunday morning briefing, according to another Post report. "But this fire hit every neighborhood at once. Flames were licking at the units that were doing the evacuations. We have had evacuation crews on the run for almost 24 hours straight."

As of 5 a.m. Sunday, officials had evacuated highways and canyons around the fire and reported more evacuations for the areas south and west of Bellvue, including Lory State Park, Red Stone Canyon and Buckhorn Road from Masonville up to Stove Prairie School. 

Officials expect single-digit humidity and winds up to 20 mph Sunday as 250 firefighters battle the blaze.

matt.pearce@latimes.com

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