USA — Firefighters made significant progress Saturday with the wildfire burning northwest of Fort Collins. Containment is now at 85 percent.
Authorities say the Hewlett Fire area received .15″ of rain early Saturday morning.
All evacuations due to the fire were lifted on Friday night and the U.S. Attorney’s office has issued a citation to the person they believe started the wildfire. Highway 14 is now open.
Area residents are asked to remember that there is still firefighters and firefighting equipment in the area. Nearly 600 fire personnel continued to battle the fire. The fire has burned 7,685 acres.
The U.S. Forest Service says 56-year-old James J. Weber of Fort Collins is accused of burning brush or grass without a permit. He faces a $300 fine and $25 processing fee. The Forest Service says it will also pursue Weber for restitution on the cost of fighting the fire.
The U.S. Attorney’s office won’t know how much Weber could owe in restitution until the fire is out and a complete assessment is done. The assessment process is said to take several months. Forest Service investigators say Weber was camping on the Hewlett Gulch trail. While camping he used a camp stove which uses alcohol. On Monday, the camp stove Weber was using started the wildfire.
He tried to stomp out the fire, but couldn’t. The Forest Service says he then fled as the fire spread. Weber later reported that he started the fire to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office. There is no cell service at the location of the origin of the fire. Colorado State University confirms Weber is an employee in the university’s health network.
A bike tour set for Sunday with more than 1,600 people expected to participate was cancelled due to health concerns raised by the Hewlett Fire. The wildfire broke out in Poudre Canyon near the Hewlett Gulch Trail in Roosevelt National Forest on Monday just after 1 p.m. A firefighter suffered minor injuries on Tuesday night and was treated and released. So far, that is the only report of injuries from this wildfire.
The fire is in the Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest. The fire is located approximately 20 miles northwest of Fort Collins, 10 miles west of the junction of Hwy 14 and Hwy 287 near the Hewlett Gulch Trail in the Poudre Canyon.
It’s a difficult hike to the fire, and there is limited access through the roads – making fighting the fire difficult to fight. Larimer County says the fire spread quickly after it started in the grasses on Monday. Now, the fire is burning open timber, brush, grass, and other types of vegetation.
This fire is in the same area where there have been at least eight fires in previous years. To date the fire has cost $2.4 million.