Firefighters are slowly making progress in containing the many wildfires in the American West, but forecasters expect gusty winds and warmer weather Tuesday afternoon in northern Colorado, which could further fuel the High Park Fire.
The lightning-sparked High Park Fire has scorched nearly 60,000 acres and is only 50 percent contained, according to an incident update. The nine-day-old fire began on private land and is burning about 15 miles west of Fort Collins. Some 1,770 firefighters are trying to extinguish the blaze.
Officials have said the growth potential for the fire, which has destroyed 189 homes and killed a 62-year-old woman, is extreme. The flames walked through forests and neighborhoods, forcing thousands to flee for safer ground. Assessment is still being done, but officials expect the number of damaged homes to grow.
It wasn't all bad news, though, as the high winds predicted on Monday failed to appear and firefighters were able to make progress on the firelines on the southeast flank of the flames.
Islands of unburned fuels within the fire continue to be a concern due to the presence of numerous structures, the incident update read
Little Sand Fire
In the meantime, Colorado firefighters have another wildfire to tame. The Little Sand Fire, which started last month after lightning struck, has now burned 13,180 acres and is only 30 percent contained. That fire is located 13 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs.
This fire is a difficult one to stub out as it is in rugged and inaccessible terrain, north of the Piedra River.
Considering the weather forecast, conditions are aligning and intensifying fire behavior in some areas, an incident report on that fire stated. Additionally, crews will continue to mop up, monitor and patrol the area on the northeastern edge of the fire.
New Mexico's Whitewater Baldy Fire Grows
And in New Mexico, the Whitewater Baldy Fire grew by 254 acres and now scorched more than 296,700 acres. This fire also started because of lightning last month. A total of 168 personnel are working to put out the flames. The fire is now 82 percent contained, but it has a high potential for growth.