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A Type 3 helicopter drops water over the

Blodgett Peak fire in northwest Colorado Springs on Thursday

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Firefighters made progress Friday on a nearly 1-acre blaze burning high in the foothills of northwest Colorado Springs. Despite strong winds that grounded a helicopter supporting the effort, spokeswoman Susan Ford said the Blodgett Peak fire was 50% contained as of early Friday evening.

Sights from South Blodgett Peak Open Space, the 64 acres Colorado Springs parks department acquired in 2018 near the popular preserve on the city's north side. (Video by Seth Boster, The Gazette)

A late afternoon snowstorm dropped much-needed moisture on the area hours after a small crew of firefighters ascended the peak to continue mitigation efforts near the blaze. The fire will be monitored overnight, Ford said, and officials will return Saturday morning to assess fire and accessibility conditions.

The blaze ignited in rugged terrain above housing developments, presenting a challenge for firefighters on the ground and in the air.

"It is very inaccessible, dangerous terrain," Ford said.

A helicopter dropped water on the area Friday morning but had to stop after winds kicked up to nearly 50 mph. The National Weather Service recorded a high temperature of 60 degrees in Colorado Springs — 16 degrees above the average high for Christmas Eve.

Four firefighters from the Colorado Springs Fire Department, one from El Paso County and one with the U.S. Forest Service hiked into the forest to chop down dead trees, cut them into smaller bits and burn them in a controlled setting to prevent the timber from falling and spreading the fire farther, Ford said.

The firefighting activity led to visible smoke.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but a lightning strike last month is suspected as the cause, spokesman Ralph Bellah said.

A fixed-wing aircraft will continue to monitor the fire using thermal sensing, with brush trucks and crews ready to respond if needed, Ford said.

Peregrine subdivision remained on pre-evacuation status as of Friday evening, though Ford said officials were working through various partners to lift that order. Blodgett Peak Open Space remains closed.

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