EL PASO COUNTY, Colorado — The 117 Fire that has burned 40,892 acres in El Paso County is now 60 percent contained, according to the sheriff’s office.
About 300 people and 150 pieces of equipment, including fire engines, road graders, and dozers, are fighting the fire Thursday. Fire managers said the calm weather on Wednesday allowed firefighters to make a lot of progress in containing the fire. They hope to continue that work this morning before winds pick back up again this afternoon.
The fire has destroyed at least 23 homes, 7 of which were vacant. Several outbuildings and vehicles were also destroyed, and an unknown number of pets and livestock have been killed.
A state Type 2 incident command team took command of the fire at 6 a.m. Thursday. This change allows the county to use state resources to fight the fire.
El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said they have not yet confirmed what caused the fire, but it does not appear to be a case of arson.
A smaller 5,000-acre fire on the far eastern edge of the county, about eight miles from the eastern edge of the 117 Fire, is now out. That fire started Tuesday near the intersection of Boone Road and Rasner Road, which is about 22 miles south of Yoder, and spread into Lincoln and Crowley counties. No buildings were lost in that fire.
Hanover District 28 and Edison 54JT schools are closed again Thursday due to the fire.
Some evacuated residents are returning to their homes, but anyone who returns home is doing so at their own risk because there are still active fires in the grass.
The current evacuation zones are:
- The area bordered by Hanover Road to the north, Peyton Highway to the east, Overton Road to the south, and Meridian Road to the west.
- The area bordered by Hanover Road to the north, County Line Road to the south, and Interstate 25 to the west.
- The area bordered by Sanborn Road to the north, the El Paso/Lincoln county line to the east, the El Paso/Pueblo county line to the south, and Boone Road to the east.
- The area bordered by Squirrel Creek Road to the north, Boone Road to the east, Myers Road to the south, and Peyton Highway to the west.