Given concerns about below-average snowpack and already-announced watering restrictions in various Front Range communities, it's no surprise the first significant wildland blaze of the season arrived in March. Dubbed the Galena fire, the Fort Collins-area conflagration in Lory State Park, just beyond the banks of Horsetooth Reservoir, is thought to have consumed 1,000 acres thus far, and while containment is estimated at 75 percent, authorities aren't ready to call this story over. More information and photos courtesy of the Larimer County Sheriff's Office below.
Last year, Colorado was afflicted by numerous wildfires, with one of the most destructive being the High Park fire, which scorched well over 80,000 acres in an area approximately fifteen miles outside Fort Collins.
Fortunately, the Galena fire doesn't look likely to approach that level of destruction. While the 1,000 acre guess could rise, according to the Longmont Times-Call, it's not expected to threaten the High Park mark unless something unanticipated happens.
The most recent update from the Larimer County Sheriff's Office notes that high winds, some of which gusted to speeds above fifty miles per hour, hampered operations yesterday to some degree. Fortunately, the humidity was higher than it had been thanks to brief rain and snow showers that struck during the afternoon.
Around 130 fire personnel have been working the blaze, assisted by a pair of helicopters, although the latter couldn't be used yesterday due to the winds. Authorities hope they can be employed today.
Homeowners in the immediate vicinity of the fire were allowed to return on Saturday evening, and no residences or outbuildings have been lost at this writing -- another stark contrast with High Park. As for how Galena got started, here's the statement offered by the LCSO: "Officials would like to reiterate that the cause and origin was human-caused but NOT the result of a campfire, controlled burn or escaped prescribed burn."
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Expect to learn more about the possibilities that remain as the Galena fight winds down -- which everyone involved hopes it does, and soon. In the meantime, look below to see more photos of the efforts to date courtesy of photographer Dave Johnston and the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.
Continue for more photos of the Galena fire near Fort Collins. Continue for more photos of the Galena fire near Fort Collins.
More from our News archive circa June 2012: "High Park fire update: 85 percent containment, many subdivisions reopened."