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Spring Fire grows to more than 38,000 acres

Posted at 10:49 AM, Jun 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-30 12:49:33-04

The Spring Fire in Costilla and Huerfano counties is now at an estimated 38,136 acres, still with zero percent containment. The fire continued to grow overnight Friday at it was fueled by high temperatures, winds, and low humidity.

Highway 160 remains closed with no estimated time of reopening. Highway 12 is also closed in the Cuchara Valley due to mandatory evacuations.

Incident commanders released Friday that the fire was human caused, but there’s no detail available on the incident that started this massive wildfire. The La Veta Fire Chief said during a community meeting that it was not caused by sparks from a train on the railroad that runs through the area.

As a disaster declaration was provided by Governor Hickenlooper, more resources are now available for the firefight.

A concentrated air attack is underway today with air tankers and helicopters being used to cool the fire’s edge and slow growth, mostly on the east side, which is a few miles from La Veta.

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The fire operation section chief told homeowners Friday night that fire crews will be more aggressive on the eastern edge of the fire on Saturday. Several aircraft are in the area doing water and retardant drops on the fire line. More crews are expected soon to move onto the southern edge of the fire.

Crews with bulldozer worked to the west of La Veta on Friday afternoon to carve out fire lines so slurry could be put in place to protect the town, which has an estimated population of 779 people. Cuchara has approximately 150 people living there.

Due to the huge effort to fight this fire homeowners do not know what properties were impacted. 

Mandatory evacuations went out around 5 p.m. Friday giving people two hours to leave the areas of Tres Valles, Paradise Acres, Raspberry Mountain, Pine Haven and the Cuchara Valley before Highway 12 is closed at 7 p.m. That evacuation included the town of Cuchara.

The Mayor of La Veta told everyone that the town continues to be on pre-evacuation status, meaning everyone needs to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice. 

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San Luis Valley Emergency officials established a new public information line at 719-695-9573. There’s also another public meeting at 1 p.m. to discuss the situation with evacuees at the Blanca/Fort Garland Community Center.

There are currently two evacuation centers open on either side of La Veta Pass. 

  • Blanca/Fort Garland Community Center located at 17591 E. Hwy 160 in Blanca, CO
  • Huerfano Community Center located at 928 Russel St, Walsenburg, CO

Colorado State Patrol has closed Highway 160 in both directions. The closure on the east side of the pass begins at Highway 12. On the west side of the pass, it begins at Highway 159 in Fort Garland. There is no estimated time the Highway will reopen.

San Isabel Electric Association reports customers experiencing power outages in the La Veta area due to damaged lines from the fire. The company is asking affected customers to call 800-279-7432 if your power is out.

The fire is also impacting Post Office delivery to hundred of people in the Forbes Park area. At this time, all mail, including checks and medication is being held at the Fort Garland Post Office on Highway 159. Anyone picking up their mail will have to present an I.D.


Timelapse video from viewer Nick Hammet shows the Spring Fire moving into Huerfano County late Thursday night. He shot the video from the lookout on Old La Veta Pass.  If you have video or photos to share, and can do so safely, please let us know via mypics@koaa.com.  

Remember: Drones are NOT allowed in fire zones. An unauthorized flight will impact firefighting efforts.

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RELATED:

‘Aggressive’ attack coming Saturday on 33,000 acre Spring Fire

Thursday coverage of Spring Fire

VIDEO: Spring Fire consumes home in Forbes Park

Official San Luis Valley emergency page.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST FIRST ALERT 5 WEATHER FORECAST

Official Facebook page for firefighting effort – Spring Fire 2018

Official Twitter account for firefighting effort – @SpringFire2018