More firefighters heading to Colorado

Associated Press Modified: May 18, 2012 at 5:46 am •  Published: May 18, 2012

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — More firefighters are heading to a fire that has burned across more than 11 square miles in northern Colorado and is approaching a reservoir for the city of Greeley.

U.S. Forest Service officials said the blaze about 20 miles northwest of Fort Collins had scorched 1.5 square miles of land but rapidly expanded Thursday fueled by erratic winds.

The blaze was one of several burning in the West. A fire in northern Arizona that led to the evacuation of a historic mining town grew to more than 12 square miles even as the outlook improved from earlier in the week.

The Colorado fire was approaching the city of Greeley's Milton Seaman Reservoir, but city officials said Greeley's water supply hadn't been affected as of Thursday evening.

Authorities ordered evacuations of about 80 homes near Poudre Canyon on Thursday, even going door to door to issue warnings. Residents of about 65 of those homes were allowed to return by early evening, with instructions to be ready to leave again if conditions change.

Some 400 firefighters were on the scene. Fire officials said more firefighters would be arriving Friday but did not provide an exact number.

Officials think human activity started the blaze, which was first reported Monday, but they are still investigating.

The area has seen several large fires in the past 12 years, including a fire started by an abandoned campfire in 2000 that scorched 16.5 square miles and destroyed 22 buildings. A fire in 2004 started by a couple burning trash scorched 8,900 acres near the same area of this week's fire, destroyed a home and prompted the evacuation of 150 homes.

Area resident John Hasler said Thursday was his second time being told to evacuate in less than 10 years, and he doesn't plan to leave.

"I was more worried when that (2004) fire was coming through here," Hasler said. "It had already burned around 10,000 acres and destroyed a home and was moving with some force when it was heading here."

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