Pueblo County evacuations lifted as Colorado faces more dangerous wildfire weather on Saturday

Hart Van Denberg/CPR News
As seen from Interstate 25, a fire at EVRAZ steel mill sent black smoke over the city of Pueblo Friday afternoon, April 5, 2024. Extremely high winds are expected to raise fire to extreme levels along the Front Range into Sunday.

Fire crews have made progress containing fires in Pueblo County. 

Crews have been fighting two fires since Friday afternoon. A blaze at the EVRAZ Steel Mill was first reported at 12:30 p.m. Friday. The fire sent large black plumes of smoke over Pueblo. Evacuation orders for the EVRAZ fire have been lifted and the public shelter related to the fire is no longer in place.

The status of a separate wildfire hasn’t changed. As of 9:40 a.m Saturday, the Vision Hills fire was reported to be 80 percent contained at an estimated 82 acres.

The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office posted on social media that evacuation orders for some residents were lifted at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Authorities have warned residents in that area to be ready to evacuate again if the fire flares up.

A red flag warning from the National Weather Service Office in Pueblo remains in effect until 8 p.m. Saturday due to gusty winds, dry conditions and low humidity. A fire weather watch was also issued from Sunday morning through Sunday evening. 

A high wind warning remains in effect through Sunday morning along the Front Range and for much of the Eastern Plains. Forecasters expect winds to be between 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 70 mph along the Interstate 25 corridor between Monument and Cañon City.

For the rest of the Front Range, the National Weather Service in Boulder expects winds between 35 to 55 mph with gusts up to 80 mph and humidity as low as 17 percent.

Xcel Energy says it’s monitoring high wind conditions through Sunday. A representative for the state’s largest utility said technicians will de-energize some power line segments beginning 3 p.m. Saturday for an estimated 55,000 customers to reduce chances that downed power lines could spark wildfires.

Communities in Boulder County, small sections of Gilpin, Jefferson, Larimer, Douglas, and Broomfield Counties and the West Denver Metro area along the foothills may be affected if those power lines are shut off.

Pueblo County Sheriff David Lucero and Pueblo Mayor Heather Graham gave an update Saturday afternoon on both the Vision Hills and EVRAZ Fires.

Graham said the EVRAZ Fire has been contained and the shelter has been lifted. But, there’s no percentage on the containment and command staff have been set up near the site.

“Multiple buildings have collapsed and burned down. But, as of right now, it is contained,” Graham said. “We are asking the public to stay away from the area. We expect high winds coming in this afternoon, and we might have a re-ignition of fire.”

Both directions of Overton Road in Pueblo remain closed due to the Vision Hills fire. In the event of an evacuation, the evacuation route will be to the north of Overton Road. Lucero said the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control will assume responsibility for fighting the fire.

“We're going to continue to monitor that. We're making pretty good headway on that. But again, the winds are going to affect our response and what we're able to do,” Lucero said. No buildings have been damaged in the Vision Hills fire, which has an estimated size of 103 acres.