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Colorado wildfire 45% contained, evacuation orders lifted

March 16, 2013|By Paloma Esquivel
  • Smoke rises from trees west of Fort Collins, Colo., on Friday. Evacuation orders were being lifted Saturday evening.
Smoke rises from trees west of Fort Collins, Colo., on Friday. Evacuation… (Ed Andrieski / Associated…)

LAFAYETTE, Colo. -- A Colorado wildfire that forced hundreds of evacuations west of Fort Collins was about 45% contained by Saturday evening, and officials said residents could soon return home.

The blaze started accidentally on Friday, a day of record high temperatures and gusty winds.  Between 750 and 1,000 acres burned near Lory State Park, where one of the largest wildfires in state history destroyed hundreds of homes last year.

Several hundred evacuation notices were sent to local homeowners. But by Saturday evening, evacuees were told they could begin returning home at 8 p.m. They were warned, however, to be prepared to leave again if necessary.

No injuries were reported and no structures were damaged.

The size and early-season appearance of the blaze in a state coping with years of drought set some Coloradans on edge. Last year, the state was ravaged by two of the most destructive wildfires in its history. Thousands of acres burned and hundreds of homes were destroyed.   

Poudre Fire Authority Capt. Patrick Love said such large fires are not unheard of in March.

“We’ve even had larger fires in January and February,” he said. “But the drought that we have been in, in this portion of the state, has somewhat played a role in the dryness of all the fuels.”

Love said the fire was caused by human activity. He did not give any more details except to say that it was not the result of a prescribed burn.

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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