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Teller County requests state wildfire emergency declaration for High Park Fire

TELLER COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Teller County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) is in discussion with the state to declare a statewide wildfire emergency.

Monday, the BoCC said that it's discussing the declaration with the State of Colorado and Governor Jared Polis in response to the High Park Fire.


The fire, 5.5 miles west of Cripple Creek, was reported a week ago has been growing since Thursday afternoon; the cause remains undetermined.

As of Monday at 5 p.m., the fire has burned 1,600 acres in rough terrain and has forced the pre-evacuation and evacuation of 580 homes, affecting 400 people and 75 rural businesses.


The fire is burning a few miles west of Cripple Creek, and residents there are closely watching it in case it changes direction and moves toward the casino town.

"It's definitely very scary," said Sierra Wiedman, an employee at Cripple Creek Liquor at the west end of town. "I don't think that it can come over here. We have really good resources and the town is pretty much surrounded by prairie. But I have my emergency bag packed at home and am ready to evacuate if I have to."


Tom Main lives in Woodland Park but owns ten acres of land not far from the liquor store; he was in the area Monday watching the scene.

"Mostly we have trees up there and would hate to lose them," he said. "I'm feeling a little better about it but I'm still concerned."


Colorado Parks and wildlife asks people to watch out for wildlife fleeing from the fire.


"The good news is that most wildlife is very resilient, said Travis Sauder, a CPW manager. "They're able to move well ahead of the fire, and they stay out of trouble. And it can actually benefit wildlife. It can take a few years, but a fire stimulates growth of new vegetation after it burns a lot of old and dead trees and other vegetation."


At the time of the request, the Teller County Assessor's Office reports the total value of the evacuated properties is approximately $56.9 million, with another $216.1 million in the pre-evacuation area.

Officials estimate that the total cost of fighting just the High Park Fire is approximately $2 million after five days, which could exhaust the Teller County Fire Contingency Fund before the conclusion of the 2022 fire season.


The BoCC said that depending on the severity and duration of the High Park Fire, the cost could reach $300 million.

“While we are being fiscally responsible and maximizing cost-sharing, mission success in fighting this fire and saving human lives and property is paramount. Based on the early date of this fire and our extreme drought conditions, there is a high probability that we could face our next fire with a depleted fund,” said Board of Chairman Dan Williams in a press release.

Monday at 9 a.m., fire officials reported the fire had grown to 1,558 acres based on Sunday night's infrared flyover and was 27% contained.

Teller County 411/Facebook

The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team said that every three minutes crews are actively running dip and drop cycles with helicopters.

Officials explained that fuels remain critically dry, allowing the fire to grow in any direction.

Below is a look at the latest map for the fire:

Teller County Sheriff's Office (TCSO)

Click here to learn about the latest evacuation notices.

Donations can be given to the Teller County Public Health Department Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. That address is 11115 US-24 B1, Divide, CO 80814.

Watch an update provided by Lathan Johnson, Operations Section Chief Trainee with Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team 1 on the High Park Fire Monday below:

Clouds brought slightly cooler temperatures and even some brief light rain to the area Monday; authorities said that the weather helped them by blowing the fire back on itself, on areas that had already burned.


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