science article on Structures destroyed, people missing in Colorado wildfire regarding Blaze, Winds, Wildfire, Service, Advisory, Flames, Forest, County, Firefighters, Larimer, Evacuations, Saturday, National, Number, Colorado, People, Unknown, Humidities, Skies, Sunny
An out-of control Colorado wildfire fueled by high winds and hot temperatures left an unknown number of people missing, destroyed 10 structures and prompted evacuations on Saturday, fire officials said.
By nightfall the so-called High Park Fire had blackened some 5,000 acres in an area northwest of Fort Collins Saturday and was zero percent contained, said fire spokeswoman Jennifer Hillman. She said authorities have been unable to locate or make contact with an unknown number of people who live in the area.
Authorities ordered the evacuations as winds fanned the flames late in the afternoon.
Deputies and firefighters went door-to-door telling residents to flee before flames forced them to leave the area, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith told reporters at an evening briefing.
One firefighter was hospitalized for heat exhaustion earlier in the day, he said.
Plumes of smoke could be seen from the Denver metropolitan area.
"There is a lot of beetle-killed trees up there and it's been a very hot and dry day," Hillman said.
Because of a low winter snowpack and a dry spring, most of Colorado is experiencing tinder-dry conditions, the National Weather Service said in an advisory Saturday.
"The combination of sunny skies ... low humidities and gusty winds will cause critical fire weather conditions," the advisory said.
The High Park blaze was reported about dawn Saturday and is believed to have started on private land and quickly spread into the Roosevelt National Forest, the forest service said.
It is the third major wildfire to hit Larimer County this spring in what has already been an active early wildfire season.
Crews were attacking the blaze with air tankers and helicopter water drops, and 200 firefighters are battling the blaze from the ground, the forest service said.