High Park fire update: 85 percent containment, many subdivisions reopened

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Containment is at 85 percent -- which is not to suggest that the fire is 85 percent out.

The federal InciWeb page dedicated to High Park, updated last night, begins not with stats about new acreage consumed (the fire hasn't grown substantially in two days), but with the subject of reintegrating evacuated individuals into their neighborhoods -- a good sign if ever there was one. So, too, are the notes about rains that swept the area yesterday afternoon. The storm didn't dump a great deal of moisture: Amounts varied from .15 inches to a barely measurable trace. Yet every little bit helps. This tone is echoed by the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, which points out in its most recent update that the past 36 hours have marked changes for the better in the fire zone. But while complete containment now seems within reach, the LCSO stresses that control of the fire is still a ways off. It may take "an act of nature such as prolonged rain or snowfall" to fully extinguish the blaze, and islands of fire are expected to burn within the perimeter of the zone for some time to come -- perhaps even months. But fuel that smolders on hillsides, as opposed to racing up them, offers the opportunity for an orderly return to the area for people who've been living out of suitcases and sleeping on couches for the better part of a month. The number of houses destroyed remains at 257. Yesterday evening, a slew of subdivisions accessible by Rist Canyon Road were reopened. They include Pine Acres, Davis Ranch, Rist Canyon, Spring Valley, Whale Rock, Rist Creek, Stratton Park, Tip Top Ranch, Laurence Creek, Paradise Park, Stove Prairie Road from Buckhorn Road to Bent Timber Lane and Old Flowers Road from Stove Prairie Road to its 8000 block. Right now, the acreage consumed is holding steady at 87,284, and 1,125 firefighters are hard at work trying to finalize the perimeter. That's roughly the personnel total toiling today at Waldo Canyon -- another indication that the High Park fire is no longer the fearsome beast it was mere days ago.

Below, see more photos courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service, followed by our previous coverage.

Page down to see our previous coverage, including photos and videos.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts