117 Fire 25 percent contained, crews face high winds again today

Posted at 6:56 AM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 08:56:50-04

The latest reports on the 117 Fire said the blaze is now 25 percent contained.

The fire started early Tuesday afternoon along the east side of I-25 in the Hanover area. 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes as the fire moved quickly through El Paso County.

(evacuation map)

Mandatory evacuations were put in place and stretched from I-25 all the way to the El Paso/Lincoln County Line. On Wednesday, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder stated that evacuation order were still in place. First responders were unable to block all roads and some people were able to return home. Sheriff Elder issued a warning to those who returned home to stay vigilant as the direction of the fire could change with shifting winds. The Sheriff recommended that people remain evacuated.

The fire remains at 41,000 acres burned. 23 homes have been destroyed, seven of which were vacant. 16 families have been displaced. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but the Sheriff said it began right along the road and railroad tracks.

Sheriff Elder said the weather Wednesday helped in getting the fire somewhat under control, but crews will remain actively fighting until 100 percent containment is achieved. They face more challenges Thursday, as high winds are once again expected in the area. As of late Wednesday afternoon, 200 firefighters from three different teams were aiding in the response. 

The state took over incident command of the fire Wednesday afternoon as the blaze was upgraded to a Type 2 fire. This designation allows for more funding and additional resources.

Troops from Fort Carson put their training on hold and joined the fight on Wednesday morning, adding additional resources on the ground and in the air. Five helicopters from the Mountain Post joined the fight, dropping water and retardants on the flames. Al training activities were canceled Wednesday to allow for the use of the equipment and personnel. Sheriff Elder said it was a "big deal" that the post was willing to offer their resources.

Salvation Army crews remain on scene to feed and hydrate firefighters. Crews have also been placed on standby to continue providing meals to responders in need in the coming days. 

Hanover and Edison School Districts remain closed Thursday, the second day of closures.

The Sheriff’s Office is now warning people of donation scams related to the fire. The Office urges people to confirm organizations before making any donations.

Those affected by the fire can call the county joint information center at 719-575-8888. If you believe you have lost your home in the fire, the Sheriff’s Office asks that you call 719-323-8736.

The county has enacted Stage 2 fire restrictions, which means all outdoor burning in the county is prohibited.

For more information on wildland fire evacuation plans, click here