From Northern Colorado Five's News Partner The Loveland Reporter Herald.
FORT COLLINS -- Cement steps and a steel railing led to an empty foundation where a house stood across from the Picnic Rock recreation area in the Poudre Canyon. The stone barrier around the foundation outlines the home -- one of 189 destroyed by the High Park fire.
A few miles farther up the canyon the twisted, melted metal roof is all that remains of a bathroom at North Park. A few steps west, A wooden information kiosk was untouched by the flames of the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, still burning west of FortCollins.
"That's all wood with wood shake shingles," Poudre Fire Authority Capt. Patrick Love said, pointing to the kiosk.
"That just shows the fickleness of a forest fire and the challenges we face. Look around.
There's still green within 15 feet, beautiful green trees."
Firefighters have faced many challenges since a lightning strike raged out of control June 9, spreading through the parched Rist, Buckhorn, Redstone and Poudre canyons. One of the biggest obstacles for firefighters was windy, hot weather and three days of red flag conditions.
But Wednesday, Mother Nature dealt the 1,911 firefighters a break -- temperatures 10-15 degrees lower and relative humidities that reached 35 to 45 percent.
Working with tanker planes and helicopters, the crews on the ground made progress in building fire line throughout the day, said BrettHaberstick, fire information officer. An area of burned vegetation along Highway 14 along the Poudre River northwest of Fort Collins shows evidence of the High Park fire. ( Steve Stoner )managers are hoping new figures will reflectan increase. Cooler temperatures are predicted to continue Thursday.
Thousands of residents have been forced from their homes, evacuated for more than a week, but some who live along the perimeter of thefire have been allowed to return home. Most recently, neighborhoods in Mill and Soldier canyons were allowed home Wednesday (for the secondtime in a week after two separate evacuations) along with those in the Hewlett Gulch subdivision, including Gordon Creek Way and Deer Meadow.
Today, residents of Poudre Park may be allowed back home, depending on the fire behavior, said John Schulz, Larimer County Sheriff's Office spokesman.
But further into the interior of the fire, the highly damaged Rist Canyon and the active fire on the western flank, it is still toovolatile and dangerous for residents to return.
Missile Silo Road is along the perimeter, not far from Ted's Place.
Sunday, the second day of the fire, Poudre Fire Authority crews were on that road spraying homes with water, protecting what they couldfrom the exploding High Park Fire.
Only one home was not spared. A pile of ash and debris remain at the back of a charred field, while neighboring homes and fields are stillstanding and still green because of those crews.
"The fire got ahead of us and outstripped our resources," Love said, standing in front of 6309 Missle Silo Road. "Unfortunately we lostthis one."
A hillside with burned vegetation and the charred remains of pit toilet are visible Wednesday at rest area along Colorado 14 in Poudre Canyon. It was among the damage shown to media members on a tour in the burn area. ( Steve Stoner )
"We hate to lose any residence, especially a primary residence. It hurts us when something like that happens."
Minutes up Poudre Canyon from Picnic Rock and North Park, tucked down from the blackened walls and charred trees and rocks, Gateway Park is unburned. The trees and grass, while drier than normal, appear lush.
The fire cannot be seen. This is one of many oases fire officials have described during the fire.
But even experienced fire veterans with knowledge of how weather and terrain affect the flames, cannot explain why fire jumps around,destroys and spares in the same breath.
"Why does the chicken cross the road?" Love asked. "I have no idea. Why does it go through some areas and burn the understory and other areas take out the trees? That's just the nature of forest fires."
EYE ON NOCO