MANITOU SPRINGS — The Incline Fire, which sparked on Thursday afternoon, is 100 percent contained according to the latest report Sunday evening.
The City of Manitou Springs said firefighters were able to reach containment on the fire despite the high winds and red flag warnings Sunday.
Sunday, crews analyzed the fire through thermal imaging and physically feeling for hot spots. The crews reported no pockets of heat.
The Incline, Barr Trail, and Barr parking lot will reopen Monday.
The pre-evacuation notice was lifted for the 500 to 600 block of Ruxton Avenue, all of Fairview and Upper Crystal Park above railroad grade as of 5:23 p.m. on Friday.
The fire is not believed to have burned the actual Barr Trail.
About 35 firefighters arrived Friday morning to work on the Incline Fire, which has not grown since it was first reported Thursday afternoon. Firefighters left the scene Friday night and returned first thing on Saturday morning.
"Some of the concern with that fire is as the hotspots burn the interior of the fire, there is a chance of embers coming from those and spotting into the adjacent fuels," said Dawn Sanchez, spokeswoman for the Incline Fire, early Friday morning.
Sanchez provided an update Friday afternoon on the constant supply of water that is now available to crews from the Ruxton Creek, reiterating that it is "pretty big to have the water up there."
Upper Crystal Park above railroad grade, 500-600 blk of Ruxton, all of Fairview is under a Pre-Evac due to the #InclineFire. Make preparations should this notice become mandatory. We are being overly cautious : REPEAT YOU DO NOT NEED TO LEAVE NOW. Call 9-1-1 only for emergencies. pic.twitter.com/83zuXhIfi9— EPCSheriff (@EPCSheriff) October 9, 2020
Sanchez reiterated Friday that both The Incline and Barr Trail are closed after finding some hikers on the trail late Thursday evening. People are asked to stay away from the area as crews work on the fire.
Jeff Strossner, commander with the Colorado Springs Police Department, joined Sanchez Friday afternoon and said the origin and cause of the fire are still being determined.
"We are asking the community to call in any tips they have," he said. Anyone who is a witness or has information regarding the Incline Fire is asked to call the tip line at (719) 520-6666. If you'd like to remain anonymous, you may call the Crime Stoppers tip line at (719) 634-7867.
Strossner said CSPD's Regional Explosives Unit will be the lead investigating agency of the fire in the event that the origin and cause is determined to be arson. The fire department determines these two factors and once they make the determination that it is arson, then that is when the criminal case will begin.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office tweeted about two hours after agencies responded to the fire that they were searching for "an arson suspect in the area of Barr Trail." Strossner said he does not know whether or not to call the person a "suspect" at this point and described them as a person of interest.
Watch Friday nights's briefing:
A spokesperson said Thursday evening the fire is right off of the Barr Trail in a place that is not being impacted by wind. According to the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center, an Air Attack and SEAT were sent to assist. However, that changed as no air units were available to fight the fire.
The risks of this fire include very dry conditions in which flames can spread easily, plus the rugged terrain which leaves crews taking extra precautions.
According to Alex Trefry, the public information officer for the city of Manitou Springs, a call came into the communications center at approximately 4:46 p.m., stating a man was yelling "burn the forest down" near the Barr Trail.
About 30 minutes later there was visible smoke. The Manitou Springs Police Department and El Paso County Sheriff's Office responded to the call.
NEW INFO: Manitou Springs says at 4:46 pm, a caller reported a man screaming “burn the forest down” near Barr trail. That was the original call that led deputies to respond to the scene - 30 minutes after, smoke was seen. @KOAA— Colette Bordelon (@ColetteBordelon) October 9, 2020
Our news team spoke with hikers who were on the trail and said they heard "pops" before they saw the smoke. Others heard a loud explosion.
This is an ongoing investigation and we will update you as soon as more information becomes available.
Gov. Jared Polis' months-long state-wide fire ban has officially expired, but officials remind individuals that the fire danger remains high statewide due to dry conditions. Many local governments have put their own fire restrictions in place due to the high fire dangers. CLICK HERE for more information on each county's fire restrictions.
In El Paso County, Stage 2 fire restrictions are still in place. Under the restriction, open burning, using and selling fireworks, and outdoor smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, are all prohibited.