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Spring Fire at 84,569 acres, 5 percent containment heading into 4th of July

Posted at 5:52 AM, Jul 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-04 07:52:30-04
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Huerfano County emergency officials expanded pre-evacuation orders north of Highway 69 Tuesday as the north side of the Spring Fire grew to nearly 85,000 acres, within 3,000 acres of making it the third largest in state history.

Incident commanders told News 5 the fire has burned an estimated 84,569 acres with containment remaining at 5 percent Tuesday night. That new number puts it very close to the High Park Fire, which burned west of Fort Collins in Larimer County. That fire burned 87,284 acres.

The communities of Black Mountain, Aspen Mountain, Libre, El Toro, CL&L, Buffalo Ranch, and Eagle Flat Ranch should be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

The new pre-evacuation area runs from I-25 west to the Custer county line and from Highway 69 north to the the Pueblo County line.

These new orders are in addition to mandatory evacuation orders issued earlier for all residents in the area north of County Road 362 to the county line.

That area includes the the School Creek, Wahotoya Valley, Little Kansas, and East Spanish Peaks communities, the area known as the “Mesa,” as well as the west side of Shangri La.

Mandatory evacuation orders were also issued for the Chama, Redwing, Malachite, and Badito areas south of Highway 69. 

Evacuees from Huerfano County should go to the Red Cross Shelter in Walsenburg at 928 Russell Street Walsenburg, CO 81089. 

The town of Gardner remains on pre-evacuation status, after emergency officials mistakenly said it was under mandatory evacuation orders Monday afternoon. 

The latest pre-evacution orders means almost the entire western half of Huerfano County is under either mandatory evacuation orders or pre-evacuation orders. Walsenburg is not included in any evacuation or pre-evacuation orders.

Further to the south near Cuchara, the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office told News 5’s Sam Kraemer that firefighters successfully held the fire west of Highway 12. That’s a spot where firefighters are working to save as many structures as possible.


In Costilla County, The Indian Creek and Trinchera Ranch area moved from mandatory evacuations to pre-evacuations at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Rapid tags and a second form of ID will be required. 

San Luis Valley Emergency officials announced a procedure explaining different stages of re-entry for residents living in the burn area.

  • Phase A will allow debris cleaning crews, damage assessment teams to go in and make sure the area is safe
  • Phase B will allow limited re-entry into the fire area for a short window of time and residents will need to come back out at the end of the window of entry. Residents must have their Rapid Tag and photo identification to be let back in
  • Phase C will allow residents and business owners to re-enter the burn area with Rapid Tags. 

Costilla County, Emergency Management Officials say at least 104 homes in the Forbes Park subdivision were destroyed and 61 are intact following the Spring Fire.

There are still dozens of homes that are inaccessible in the fire area.

A new disaster assistance center opened Tuesday at Centennial High School in San Luis. The center is open to help to help people recovery efforts. They’ll offer housing items and and information on property clean-up. There will also be several counselors and doctors to assist anyone who may need their services.

The full list of homes is listed below:

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Mandatory Evacuations:

  • Navajo Ranch, Majors Ranch, and homes along County Road 530 south to Highway 160. This includes Vega Road near Navajo. Evacuations can be north to Highway 69 or Highway 160 only going east.
  • Chama, Redwing, Malachite, and Badito south of Highway 69
  • School Creek, Wahotoya Valley, Little Kansas, and East Spanish Peaks communities, the area known as the “Mesa,” the west side of Shangri La.

Pre-Evacuations:

  • Black Mountain, Aspen Mountain, Libre, El Toro, CL&L, Buffalo Ranch, and Eagle Flat Ranch (Huerfano County)
  • The Town of Gardner (Huerfano County)
  • Indian Creek and Trinchera Ranch (Costilla County)

Evacuation Centers:

  • Blanca/Fort Garland Community Center located at 17591 E. Hwy 160 in Blanca, CO
  • Huerfano Community Center located at 928 Russel St, Walsenburg, CO
  • La Veta Disaster Assistance Center located at 126 E Garland St in La Veta

Road Closures:

  • Highway 160 remains closed in both directions with no estimated time of reopening
  • Highway 12 was closed in the Cuchara Valley south of La Veta due to evacuations.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL INTERACTIVE MAP:

From San Luis Valley Emergency – slvemergency.org

Rapid Tag Q&A

WHAT is Rapid Tag?

Rapid Tag is just the commercial name for re-entry identification for residents.

WHY?
This streamlines the re-entry process and is done in an effort to protect life and property. By checking drivers license and proof of residency, away from the incident, this eliminates congestion at critical access points and allows first responders room to work. Identification must be checked and "verified" before entering the hazard area. It is safer to verify credentials away from the hazard area. It is much safer to "verify" credentials, away from the active fire perimeter, rather than at a check point, on the side of the road.

WHO? 

Rapid tag IDs are ONLY needed by those under mandatory evacuation. We are not issuing them to those under  pre-evacuation.

WHEN & WHERE? 

Fort Garland Community Center today until 4pm. 
Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) Tues and Wed from 8am- 3pm. – Future schedule TBD
We cannot issue Rapid ID’s over the phone. You must be present.

WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING?
We CANNOT issue RapidID over the phone.  You must be present to receive your rapid tag.  If you are out of town you can pick up a RapidID once you arrive.


RELATED:

Suspect arrested in connection to Spring Fire

VIDEO: Spring Fire consumes home in Forbes Park

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Official Facebook page for firefighting effort – Spring Fire 2018

Official Twitter account for firefighting effort – @SpringFire2018