Watch: Spring Fire Claims 104 Homes, Chars Nearly 125 Square Miles
Editor's Note: The Spring Fire started June 27 and has continued to grow. This story covers developments and updates that occurred July 3. You can find the latest on the fire here. Our original post continues below.
San Luis Valley Emergency tweeted Monday night that 104 homes have been destroyed so far by the Spring Fire burning east of Fort Garland. As of Tuesday morning, 78,941 acres have burned — just over 123 square miles — and more than 2,000 homes have been evacuated since the fire started June 27.
Damage is still being assessed, so it's possible the toll to property could rise.
Ellen Booth and Larry Booth told KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs that they lost their second home where they planned to retire. They weren't able to get insurance because of recent destructive fires in Colorado.
The homes burned are in Forbes Park, a mountain housing development started by multimillionaire Malcolm Forbes in the 1970s. It includes a mix of primary and vacation properties, ranging from cabins to larger homes.
Fire containment stands at 5 percent as more resources have been added to the fight, including two Air Force Reserve MAFFS C-130 air tankers flying out of their home at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. More than 700 firefighters are working the blaze.
Flames continue to follow fuel sources regardless of wind direction, growing to the north, northeast and to the south. The fire, which covers land in Costilla and Huerfano counties, has shut down US 160 between Fort Garland and La Veta. Additional road closures include CO 69 and CO 12.
CO 69 NOW CLOSED between 5 miles north of Walsenburg(mp 5) and the Huerfano/Custer County Line (mp 42) for #SpringFire Operations. Please check https://t.co/uOU0HHbUQ6 for up-to-date closure information. pic.twitter.com/8FtBknsVgl— CDOT (@ColoradoDOT) July 3, 2018
The man accused of starting the wildfire acknowledged building a fire but said he made sure it was out, according to a court document.
Jesper Joergensen, 52, initially said he had started a fire to burn trash on land where he has been living in a camper but then said he had been grilling in a permanent fire pit the day before the Spring Fire started, the document states. Joergensen, who reported the wildfire, is from Denmark and has been living in the country illegally on an expired visa per information from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in the arrest affidavit.
Joergensen is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. It's not clear if he has an attorney. A call to the public defender for the area was not returned. ICE has requested that Joergensen be turned over to them should he be released from jail.
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