News, June 17th

FIREFIGHTERS MAKE PROGRESS ON WARD GULCH FIRE

Rifle—Firefighting crews expect to have the Ward Gulch wildfire north of Rifle 80 percent contained by tonight. The fire, which was ignited by lightning last Friday, has burned 482 acres and forced the
evacuation of 25 people from 12 homes. Those residents have been allowed to return to their homes however, officials say Colorado Highway 325 remains closed. About 250 firefighters are still battling the blaze the cost of which is expected to reach one and a half million dollars. Authorities say fire danger is extremely high in Garfield County.

BLACK FOREST FIRE INVESTIGATION

COLORADO SPRINGS (AP) – Investigators are getting closer to pinpointing where Colorado’s most destructive wildfire started.
El Paso County sheriff Terry Maketa said Monday that local, state and federal investigators are “zeroing in on the point of origin” of the Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs. It’s 75 percent contained. Nearly 500 homes have been lost in the fire and two people who were trying to flee were found dead in the rubble.
The investigation is one reason authorities have been hesitant to let people back to the area hit hardest by the fire. Firefighters are also working to put out hot spots. Maketa said residents could be temporarily allowed back as early as Tuesday.

BUILDING BOOM IN ASPEN

ASPEN (AP) – Construction is rebounding in Aspen, with city-issued permits reaching their highest level since 2008. Through the month of May the city issued 585 permits for construction, electrical, plumbing and related work. That’s up 13 percent from the same period last year. In 2008, the city issued 665 permits during the same period. The value of the work covered by this year’s permits was $89 million, up 16 percent from last year. The city’s engineering department had to declare a two-week moratorium on accepting requests for reviews so it could catch up with a backlog. City officials say the building department is so busy it has had to send some work to outside plans examiners.

ASPEN KEEPING TABS ON THE ROARING FORK RIVER

ASPEN (AP) – Aspen is testing a plan to ensure sufficient flows in the Roaring Fork River by reducing the amount of water the city diverts from the stream. The City Council approved the one-year pilot project last week in an agreement with the Colorado Water Trust. The program is designed to minimize environmental impacts of drought on the river. The city will reduce its diversions when flows in the Roaring Fork fall below 32 cubic feet per second.
To accommodate the cutback, Aspen will lease less water to third parties, reduce outdoor water use and redirect other water supplies.

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