Colorado Wildfire Destroys More Than 100 Homes

By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
Firefighters on Friday battled a massive wildfire that has so far claimed more than 100 homes in northern Colorado.

CNN iReporter Victor W. Schendel says, "I am a photographer in Fort Collins, Colorado. I've been watching this fire grow from early Saturday morning until today. At first it was just a small plume of smoke, but by Saturday evening it was totally out of control. You could actually see the flames of fire from my house in SE Fort Collins about 20 miles away. By yesterday, the fire had spread to 40,000 acres and was threating homes within a couple miles of the city. I took this picture of a helecopter dumping water on the fire very close to those homes."

(CNN) -- Firefighters on Friday battled a massive wildfire that has so far claimed more than 100 homes in northern Colorado.

The High Park Fire has scorched more than 52,000 acres, forced thousands of people to flee and claimed at least one life. The blaze was 15% contained Friday, up from 10% on Wednesday.

Nick Christensen, an executive officer with the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, said Friday that 112 homes have been destroyed. Many burned days ago, but authorities are just starting to get into the affected areas to assess the damage, he said. That figure is expected to rise.

"It's really not just a list of numbers; these are stories. Each one of these represents a family that's been displaced from their home -- that may have lost some family heirlooms, some photos, possessions, kids' toys," Christensen said. "It's really devastating and sad."

At least one of the homes belonged to a Larimer County Sheriff's Office employee, he said.

First measured at two acres early last Saturday, the High Park Fire -- which officials say was caused by lightning -- has since grown exponentially. It is about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Hundreds of firefighters have arrived from across the United States to help local departments.

Besides the main blaze, they are also battling a 200-acre spot fire, which broke out just north of the burn area. Helicopters flew back and forth Friday, dousing the flames with water.

Complicating firefighters' efforts was a thunderstorm, which brought little rain, but kicked up strong winds, said Brett Haberstick, an incident command spokesman.

"The higher humidities definitely help. It reduces the opportunity for fire to spread. The wind, however, is not a good opportunity," he said.

Incident meteorologist Dave Lipson forecast a similar thunderstorm Saturday. Sunday should be calm, but Monday and Tuesday could bring gusts of up to 50 miles per hour on exposed ridges, he said.


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