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Phoenix

Deadly Colorado wildfire surpasses 100-square-mile mark

plane
© Reuters/Rick Wilking
A deadly, stubborn wildfire that ranks as the most destructive on record for Colorado has scorched more than 100 square miles (259 square km) of rugged mountain terrain northwest of Denver, but a cool snap on Wednesday gave fire crews a chance to take the offensive.

The so-called High Park Fire already is blamed for one death and has consumed 189 homes in the 12 days since it was ignited by lightning at the edge of the Roosevelt National Forest, and authorities say they expect property losses to climb once more damage assessments are made.

As of Wednesday, an estimated 1,000 homes remained evacuated on the western outskirts of Fort Collins, a city of more 140,000 people that lies adjacent to the national forest about 55 miles north of Denver, according to Larimer County Sheriff's spokesman John Schulz.

The only casualty reported from the fire so far was a 62-year-old grandmother whose body was found last week in the ashes of a cabin where she lived alone. She was the fourth person to die in a Colorado wildfire this year.

Hardhat

Wildfires Rage in Siberia: State of Emergency Declared


A state of emergency has been declared in several eastern regions, where hundreds of wildfires are now raging.

­The wildfires cover an 8,331-hectare area in total, according to the Siberian Federal District Forestry Department. Around 1,600 people and 42 planes are now fighting the fires.

According to Greenpeace, the situation is worse now than at the same time in the summer of 2010, when Russia was devastated by forest fires.

Local authorities, however, claim there is currently no threat to local populated areas or businesses. The fires have decreased by one-third over the weekend.

Phoenix

Colorado wildfire: High Park Fire claims 181 homes

Gov. John Hickenlooper shows a photo of the tree hit by lightning that started the High Park Fire.
© The Denver Post | Hyoung Chang
Gov. John Hickenlooper shows a photo of the tree hit by lightning that started the High Park Fire.
Larimer County Sheriff's officials said this afternoon that the number of homes lost in the High Park fire has reached 181, the most in Colorado history surpassing the Four Mile fire in 2010, which claimed 169 homes.

Meantime, the evacuation order for residents of the Santanka Trail area on the north end of Horsetooth Reservoir has been lifted. Residents in the neighborhoods of Soldier Canyon and Mill Canyon also will be able to return home starting at 6 tonight. This area will only be open to residents for the time being to give them time to move back in and for officials to secure the area.

Fire officials said the main priority for fire crews today remains structure protection and keeping the edge of the fire south of Poudre Canyon and north of Buckhorn Road in check.

Phoenix

High Park Fire: Number of homes destroyed by 52,000-acre wildfire soars to 112

Sky Crane lifts
© Mark Leffingwell
A Sky Crane lifts up after filling its water tank in a small pond to help with fire suppression in the High Park Fire near Livermore, Colorado, on Friday, June 16, 2012.
Bellvue, Colorado -- The number of homes destroyed in the giant High Park Fire west of Fort Collins jumped to 112 on Friday after fire officials were able to get a better assessment of the damage wrought by the nearly week-long blaze.

The largest number of homes lost -- 40 in all -- were in the Whale Rock area, according to Larimer County sheriff's spokesman Nick Christensen. Another 21 homes were destroyed in the Stratton Park area.

"That number will continue to grow," Christensen said.

An updated list of burned homes likely will be released Saturday after families are notified, he said. Areas currently being assessed for damage are Redstone, Buckhorn Road and Lawrence Creek, Christensen said.

This morning's official tally of burned homes was 48. The High Park Fire's containment figure of 15 percent and size of 52,000 acres didn't change at Friday afternoon's briefing.

Phoenix

Update: High Park fire containment will come soon, control is months out

Seen from a helicopter, trees burn and plumes of smoke rise over the High Park Fire west of Fort Collins.
© Eric Lutzens, The Denver Post
Seen from a helicopter, trees burn and plumes of smoke rise over the High Park Fire west of Fort Collins.
Laporte, Colorado - Firefighters attacking the complex High Park fire are using a century-old battle plan, bolstered by modern-day technologies.

Using picks and axes, wildland teams are methodically scratching barriers into the dirt and lighting back fires, while helicopters aided by satellite imagery drop water and tankers douse areas with chemical retardant.

They're trying to pin down the monster at an anchor point, building a line to flank in the beast and pinch off its head for total containment.

"If you go out and throw people all around it then it's wasted effort," said David Liebersbach, a former Type 1 incident commander and past director of Alaska's emergency services. "You find a point where you can anchor in. You work out from that in a continuous line so you don't have a chance blowing out."

But this fire, with its ever-shifting boundaries and multiple heads, isn't a textbook case.

Phoenix

Update: High Park Fire now 20,000 acres in Colorado

colorado fire
© KUSA-TV
Larimer County, Colorado -The High Park Fire is now at 20,000 acres and growing, with zero percent containment.

Just after 8 p.m. Sunday night 325 evacuation order notifications were issued for the area south of County Road 38E from Gindler Ranch Road west to Milner Ranch Road. The High Park Fire is moving rapidly in this direction. 325 were sent out.

Photo: Slide Show

Photo Gallery: Photos: High Park Fire outline

Cloud Lightning

36 wildfires burn across Alaska after lightning strikes

Alaska wildfire
© Alaska Fire Service

With lightning strikes peaking in June, it's no wonder that the first month of summer is typically Alaska's most active wildfires. This June is no exception.

According to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center (AICC) Situation Report for Friday, in the last week six new fires have added to the already 30 actively burning throuout the state.

Phoenix

Raging Fires Burn Thousands of Acres in Colorado, New Mexico

Image
© The Associated Press/Mark Wilson
Smoke billows from the Little Bear fire in southeastern New Mexico Saturday.
Albuquerque, New Mexico - Firefighters in Colorado and New Mexico are battling wind-fueled wildfires that are moving fast through parched forests, forcing scores of evacuations and destroying or damaging numerous structures.

A blaze in northern Colorado was first reported Saturday morning and had grown to about 8,000 acres by mid-evening, while a fire in southern New Mexico was small for a few days until it began growing Friday, reaching about 10,000 acres.

Both fires have damaged property and forced numerous evacuations, but officials haven't yet released specific figures on the numbers who fled.

The wildfire in the mountainous Paradise Park area, about 20 miles northwest of Fort Collins, prompted several dozen evacuation orders.

Larimer County Sheriff's Office spokesman John Schulz said the fire expanded rapidly during the late afternoon and evening and by Saturday night, residents living along several roads in the region had been ordered to evacuate and many more were warned that they might have to flee. An evacuation center has been set up at a Laporte middle school.

Officials didn't specify how many residents had evacuated but said they had sent out 800 emergency notifications urging people to be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

"Right now we're just trying to get these evacuations done and get people safe," Schulz told Denver-based KMGH-TV, adding that "given the extreme heat in the area, it makes it a difficult time for (the firefighters)."

Ten structures have been damaged, although authorities were unsure if they were homes or some other kind of buildings. No injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire was unknown.

Phoenix

Firefighters Make Progress Against Historic New Mexico Blaze

Firefighters battling New Mexico's largest-ever blaze gained ground on Sunday and officials said they would begin to allow evacuated residents to return home on Monday.
Image
© Reuters/Kari Greer/US Forest Service/Handout
Smoke billows from a forest fire in the Whitewater-Baldy Complex in New Mexico in this June 2, 2012 handout photo obtained by Reuters June 3, 2012.
The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, which has burned 241,701 acres in the Gila National Forest, is now 17 percent contained with progress being made by the hour, said Fire Information Officer Heather O'Hanlon.

Residents of the historic mining town of Mogollon, which was evacuated last Saturday, will be allowed to return starting on Monday, she said.

Phoenix

Record-setting New Mexico fire expected to burn for weeks

NM wildfire
© AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service
This image provided by the U.S. Forest Service shows a May 29, 2012 photo, of the massive blaze in the Gila National Forest, seen from Neighbors Mountain directly east of Glenwood, N.M. Fire officials said Wednesday the wildfire has burned more than 265 square miles has become the largest fire in New Mexico history.
Reserve - A smoky haze hangs over the rugged canyons and tree-covered expanses of southwestern New Mexico as the largest wildfire in the state's recorded history marches across more of the Gila Wilderness.

The virtually unchecked wildfire is fueling experts' predictions that this is a preview of things to come as states across the West contend with a dangerous recipe of wind, low humidity and tinder-dry fuels.

The Whitewater-Baldy blaze has charred more than 190,000 acres, or nearly 300 square miles, in Gila National Forest and has become the largest wildfire burning in the country.

Gov. Susana Martinez viewed the fire from a New Mexico National Guard helicopter Thursday and saw the thick smoke shrouding some of the steep canyons that are inaccessible to firefighters. She described the terrain as "impossible," saying there was no way for firefighters to directly attack the flames in the rugged areas of wilderness.

"It's going to keep going up," she said of the acreage burned. "Be prepared for that."