Colorado Wildfire Rages: 189 Homes Destroyed

By | June 18, 2012

Another eight structures burned in the High Park Fire in Colorado overnight, bringing the tally to 189 homes burned and making it the most destructive fire in the state’s history, officials said on Monday.

No estimates on insured losses have been made, but the cost of the fire to date is estimated at $12.6 million, according to a report from the Larimer County Sheriff’s office. Up to 2,500 residents have been evacuated at various stages of the fire.

“At this point our insurance adjusters don’t have safe access to the homes that were burned,” said Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

Insurers said last week this season is shaping up to be one worst wildfire seasons in recent memory.

At more than 58,000 acres, the High Park fire is roughly 45 percent contained, but Walker said she’s being told the fire could burn for another month.

“They’re talking about this fire not being fully contained another month,” she said.

In terms of size the High Park Fire is the third largest in the state’s history. The 2002 Hayman fire, which consumed 137,760 acres, was the state’s largest.

The High Park Fire surpassed the 2010 Fourmile Canyon wildfire in terms of destructive force. Some 169 homes were destroyed in that fire.

“From just a standpoint of a destructive fire it will be the most property loss in a wildfire in Colorado history,” Walker said. “Certainly this is already our most destructive fire in Colorado history

Insured losses from the Fourmile Canyon fire, which claimed a large number of high-dollar value properties, topped $217 million.

Walker said there may have been several cabins and secondary properties, some of which may be uninsured, as well as single-family homes, burned in the High Park Fire.

However the massive amount of smoke generated by the lightning-sparked fire that has been burning since June 9 will likely add to damage claims, Walker added.

“We’re expecting a lot of smoke damage claims,” she said, adding that claims “will run the gamut from smoke damage claims to additional living expenses to damaged and destroyed properties.”

The fire’s northwest and west flanks are still volatile. A red flag warning was in effect on Monday, with 15-25 mph wind and gusts from 35 to 50 mph and relative humidity of 3 percent to 8 percent.

On Sunday winds shifted and relative humidity dropped to 3-4 percent, increasing activity on the fire’s southeast corner, which had been relatively well contained.

Walker said she heard the incident described as “a sleeping dragon that came back to life last night.”

Topics Catastrophe Natural Disasters Wildfire Homeowners Colorado

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