Colorado fire: 41,140 acres burned, 1 dead

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 11:29am

Firefighters were hoping to get control Tuesday of a fast-moving wildfire in northern Colorado that had scorched more than 41,000 acres, burned more than 100 structures and left one person dead.

The Red Cross, Humane Society and other aid groups mobilized to help the thousands of evacuees while at least 400 firefighters, aided by air tankers and helicopters from as far away as Canada battled the fire about 15 miles west of the city of Fort Collins.

Despite a furious fight, officials said early Tuesday the blaze was still entirely uncontrolled.

"The hope for containment today, I will tell you, is tenuous," incident commander Bill Hahnenberg said Monday.

Flames jumped some 20 feet in the air and dry trees, brush, and grass, fueled the blaze. In the ashes of one home, authorities said they found the body of a 62-year-old woman Monday.

The woman was identified as Linda Steadman by family members.

"Linda Steadman, mother, grandmother, sister and wife perished in the cabin she loved," the family said in a written statement.
Some 41,140 acres, or more than 64 square miles, had been burned Larimer County Sheriff's Office said late Monday.

The fire had grown larger than Fort Collins, which is 47 square miles.

The fire was visible from the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins, where students and staff were told to move activities inside if possible. The university's Foothills campus was serving as command center for the firefighting efforts. More than 100 structures had been damaged or destroyed, Sheriff Justin Smith said Monday. First measured at two acres early Saturday, the High Park Fire has grown exponentially in the time since -- including more than doubling in size Sunday and again overnight into Monday.

Some of those evacuated Monday could do nothing but watch as firefighters doused the dry, hilly terrain, hoping that their homes would be saved. Others, like Kyle Ellis, had sad stories.

Ellis' home had burned he told CNN affilaite KUSA, as he stood on a ridgeline with others, watching. He struggled to tell his young daughter, why the fire moved so quickly. Why they were homeless.

"Fire burns real fast. Real hot, real dry," he said and then stopped, kissed the young girl on the cheek and told her she would get a new home.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but authorities believe it may have been started by lightning



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