ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4) - Firefighters responded to a wildfire called the Kruger Rock Fire in Estes Park Tuesday morning, and the firefight continued in the afternoon as the fire pushed east towards Highway 36 in high winds. It was estimated at 133 acres in size and is 15% contained as of 6:30 p.m. An issue with power lines sparked the blaze.
Mandatory evacuations were initially ordered for homes and businesses in Hermit Park (around Little Valley Road and Fish Creek Road, just west of Kruger Rock) in the southern part of the Colorado tourist town.
In the early afternoon, mandatory evacuations were also ordered from Pole Hill Road to Panorama Peak area on the east side of Highway 36. Voluntary evacuations are also in place near those areas.
Larimer County emergency managers put mandatory evacuations in effect "due to immediate and imminent danger. ... Evacuate the area immediately and as quickly as possible. Do not delay leaving to gather belongings or make efforts to protect your home or business. ... Evacuating immediately not only supports your safety, but also allows emergency crews better access to the area."
The Estes Park Event Center is now functioning as an evacuation center. That's located at 1125 Rooftop Way.
Some residents told a CBS4 crew they spent part of their morning packing belongings and evacuating. One man said he quickly photographed of all of the rooms in his house for insurance purposes, fearing the worst.
Highway 36 is closed from the eastern part of Estes Park to the western edge of Lyons due to the firefight.
The Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest has closed National Forest System lands south and east of Estes Park during the fire.
Wind gusts were being measured at 45 mph in the Little Valley area where the fire broke out, according to CBS4 Meteorologist Ashton Altieri. For that reason, an aerial attack on the wildfire has been impossible so far. Altieri said it will be dry, warm, and windy in Estes Park on Tuesday ahead of a cold front which will bring a change of very light snow Tuesday night.
"The strongest winds are expected to be through about 4 p.m. with gusts to 50 mph. It will remain windy with gusts to 40 mph through mid-evening. Then the cold front is expected to bring a wind shift to the northeast to east by 9 p.m. Winds speeds will drop to 10-20 mph behind the front with much cooler temperatures and higher humidities," Altieri said.
The Kruger Rock Fire was first reported just before 7 a.m.
The American Red Cross of Northern Colorado is helping with the response to the fire.
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