Spring Fire continues to grow, hits about 80,000 acres


FORT GARLAND — The Spring Fire, which has been raging east of Fort Garland for nearly week, is approximately 80,000 acres now, with a great deal of growth on the north side of Hwy 160 yesterday. More than 100 homes have been confirmed destroyed in the Forbes Park area. More assessments continue.

Courier Publisher Keith R. Cerny and other media were allowed into a portion of the fire area on Tuesday. Links to his videos are:

 

https://www.facebook.com/keith.cerny/videos/10215887299911378/

 

https://www.facebook.com/keith.cerny/videos/10215887070665647/

 

Highlights from briefing on July 3

  • Some repopulating occurring tonight at 6 in areas that were evacuated Saturday
  • Colorado Bureau of Investigation is starting its investigation on the criminal side
  • Costilla County Assessor and her team starting the remainder of Forbes Park assessments
  • Disaster Assistance Center is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 4 at the Centennial School in San Luis with variety of resources, will determine if it is being used will continue to have it open
  • Services remain available also at Blanca/Fort Garland Community Center evacuation center where Red Cross is providing food, shelter, medications like antacids where needed, laundry service available free for evacuees; also Valley Wide Mobile Clinic will be at the evacuation center from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
  • Phases are in place towards re-entry of burned areas: Phase A-CBI in to do investigation, electrical company and HAZMAT (hazardous materials) team in to evaluate dangerous such as propane leaks; Phase B-damage assessment, clean up, repair, make sure roads passable; Phase C-short term re-entry like four hours where residents can go in and assess for themselves, bring in insurance adjustors and contractors; Phase D-full re-entry, “down the road”

Captions: Blackened trees stand where beautiful forest graced the hillside just days earlier before the Spring Fire raced through and over LaVeta Pass in the 80,000-acre plus Spring Fire./Courier photos by Keith R. Cerny

7_3BurntAspenLeaves

Those knowledgeable about forest fires know that Aspen trees are considered the asbestos tree of the woods, but when fires are hot enough like that which ravaged through LaVeta Pass, even the Aspen leaves are cooked crisp.

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A film crew with 9News in Denver interviews Josh Ball (left), division supervisor of Division Delta for the U.S. Forest Service, Tuesday on LaVeta Pass as the north “head” of the Spring Fire sends a vicious plume skyward. Reportedly burning over 80,000 acres as of Tuesday, the fire jumped U.S. 160 earlier in the week and formed basically two separate fires.

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Hillsides near LaVeta Pass and throughout the Spring Fire area east of Fort Garland and west of Walsenburg were left ravaged.

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The meadow near LaVeta Pass on U.S. 160 and across from the Park Creek road was back burned by fire crews in an effort to keep the Spring Fire from crossing the highway which it eventually did further east and near the top of the pass.

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Representatives of Senator Michael Bennet’s staff were on hand for media tour of U.S. 160 on LaVeta Pass Tuesday as the highway remains closed to general traffic. Shown are, from left, Erin Minks, Bennet’s liaison in the SLV, Chief of Staff John Davidson and Ben Brack, one of the information officers on the Spring Fire. Brack, who is a former SLV resident and currently lives in Gunnison, has a private fire mitigation company and serves with Gunnison County Fire Protection.

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Skeletal remains of what was probably a truck tire and miscellaneous litter is shown just off the parking area on LaVeta Pass during a media tour of the area on U.S. Hwy. 160 on Tuesday. The highway has been closed to general traffic since Thursday night.

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