Teller County is asking Gov. Jared Polis to declare a statewide wildfire emergency, according to a Monday news release from the county.
The Board of County Commissioners cited the High Park fire and other recent wildfires around Colorado in its request for the declaration, which would allow the state to access emergency funds and allocate additional resources in support of current and future firefighting efforts.
“At such an early point in the season and with limited resources being shared across the nation, we believe conditions and demands for scarce resources will only worsen with time,” the release stated.
As of Monday afternoon, the High Park blaze had scorched nearly 1,600 acres and forced the pre-evacuation or evacuation of 580 homes, according to the release. The fire is currently 27% contained, primarily around the north and west sides of the perimeter, fire officials said. No structures have been affected by the fire so far, but Teller County leadership estimated the evacuated properties are valued at nearly $57 million.
About 180 firefighters from multiple agencies are battling the wildfire, which is burning about 5½ miles west of Cripple Creek. Seven aircraft are using aerial observation and bucket drops to support the efforts on the ground, officials said.
In their request to the governor, Teller County commissioners expressed concern that the cost of fighting the High Park fire — already estimated at $2 million — could reach $300 million, especially if conditions worsen.
“While we are being fiscally responsible and maximizing cost-sharing, mission success in fighting this fire and saving human lives and property is paramount,” Commission Chairman Dan Williams said in a statement. “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.”