Bushfire damages win for ANU

Duckett Fire forces more evacuations

16 June 2011

published by www.chieftain.com

USA — An additional 25 homes in the Brush Creek Estates area were evacuated Wednesday morning due to expected fire activity on the south end of the Duckett Fire while other nearby residents were put on pre-evacuation notice.

An estimated 75 homes in the area of the Fremont/Custer county line including County Road 192 (10 homes) and Eagle Peak subdivision (40 homes) have been evacuated as a precaution.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Custer County Sheriff’s Office issued a pre-evacuation notice for residences along Upper Verdemont Road (Custer County Road 182) including the Montgomery and Camper tracts, Pine Village and Pine Ranch. Residents of approximately 75 homes were alerted they may have to evacuate.

The fire size is estimated at 2,476 acres and is 10 percent contained. No structures have been lost, according to U.S. Forest Service fire information officers.

The Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp and County Road 198 remain closed after that area was evacuated Sunday afternoon as the fire was first reported. County Road 192 also is closed.

According to a Custer County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher, most evacuees have struck out on their own, staying with family or friends. An evacuation center remains set up at the Custer County High School in Westcliffe.

James Young, evacuated from Eagle Peak Ranch, considers himself lucky because he said he is, “not really displaced too badly” because he also has a residence in downtown Colorado Springs.

“We are expecting our first grandbaby any day now and I was thinking that we have a great place to visit in Eagle Peak Ranch and we have been looking forward to sharing that with a grandchild for a long time,” Young said Wednesday. “The prospects of losing it were pretty sad.”

Young said the home is a haven for his family, including two daughters, as well as friends who “enjoy coming to Eagle Peak whenever they can.”

“Also, the beauty of the Wet Mountain Valley is something that is near and dear to us and it is really upsetting to see it burned. My wife and I have hiked many times up by the Lutheran camp and it was so pretty,” Young said.

Because the fire is adjacent to steep slopes, winds have been hard to predict and are variable, creating a dangerous situation for firefighters, fire officials reported.

Fuels, weather and fire behavior significantly impacted suppression actions Wednesday. Winds out of the northwest late in the afternoon caused the fire to slop over the southern perimeter and continue expanding to the south and southwest.

Spotting was occurring and crews were pulled back due to safety concerns. Increased fire behavior is expected during the next several days as temperatures increase and humidity decreases, fire officials said.

Cost to fight the fire to date has been $644,000. A total of 394 fire personnel are manning the nine hand crews, 19 engines, three water tenders, three bulldozers and the aircraft crew which consists of two helicopters and fixed-wing planes.

According to a 7:30 p.m. Wednesday update, a camp crew person received stitches to the head after a work-related injury occurred at camp.

A SEAT (Airtractor 802) experienced a crosswind gust during flight which resulted in the wing dipping and striking the ground. No injuries resulted from this accident however, there was damage to the wing of the aircraft.

An investigation team has been ordered.

A community meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. today in the multipurpose room at the Custer County School, 709 Main St. in Westcliffe.

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