Pre-evacuations lifted near Incline Fire near Barr Trail in Manitou Springs

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MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. — Crews have made “really good progress” fighting the Incline Fire burning along Barr Trail in Manitou Springs, fire managers said Friday afternoon.

The Incline Fire started Thursday afternoon and was originally estimated to be burning three to five acres. By about 4:30 p.m. on Friday, the fire has been reduced to one acre burning on private property about half a mile up Barr Trail. The fire has not grown since Thursday night.

The fire, previously called the Barr Trail Fire, is at 60% containment, and firefighters have finished their work for today.

No injuries have been reported.

Here’s the latest on the fire.

Closures and pre-evacuations

No mandatory evacuation orders were issued. Pre-evacuation orders were put in place for the 500 to 600 block of Ruxton Avenue, all of Fairview Avenue, and Upper Crystal Park above railroad grade. As of 5:30 p.m., pre-evacuation has been lifted.

The Manitou Incline and Barr Trail hiking trails are closed. There’s no word on when they will reopen. No new online reservations for the Incline are currently being accepted. The Barr Trail and Iron Springs Chateau parking lots are also closed.

Investigation into cause

The origin and cause of the fire are still under investigation as of Friday afternoon.

Late Thursday night, authorities said they were looking for a suspect in connection to the fire. They said a witness called police after hearing a man yelling, “burn the forest down,” around 4:45 p.m. Law enforcement responded, and around 30 minutes later, smoke was visible about half a mile up from the trailhead.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that they are searching for a white man in his early 40s, wearing a white t-shirt with a gray hoodie tied around his waist, and gray pants.

In an update Friday, Colorado Springs police encouraged anyone with information about how the fire may have started to call the sheriff’s office at 719-520-6666, or Crime Stoppers at 719-634-STOP (7867).

Police emphasized the origin and cause of the fire have not yet been determined. If fire investigators do determine it was arson, a criminal investigation will begin.

Several people living nearby heard a person yelling they started the fire but at this time arson is still under investigation.

“I think I heard someone say I want to burn it,” said Ruxton Avenue resident, Andrew.

Firefighting efforts

The Incline Fire staging area Friday morning. / Lauren McDonald - FOX21 News
The Incline Fire staging area Friday morning. / Lauren McDonald – FOX21 News

“Crews made really good progress last night,” Sanchez said. “They were able to establish fire line and continue to improve that, and mop up hot spots.”

More than 35 firefighters are fighting the fire Friday.

“We’re not seeing much smoke this afternoon, which is a good sign that they’re making really good progress,” Sanchez said Friday afternoon.

Sanchez said firefighters were able to run 1,200 feet of fire hose from Ruxton Creek to a large water tank near the fire. From there, pumps deliver the water to the fire.

She said this afternoon, they hope to put hose all the way around the fire, helping firefighters cool hot spots and gain containment.

“There’s still a lot of hot spots within the interior of that fire,” Sanchez said. “The surrounding fuels are very dry. We’ve been dry for a long time in this area. Not a lot of moisture. And so what we call the fuel bed is very receptive to embers. So as the wind picks up, as those hot spots create those embers, they can get blown into the adjacent fuels. And so that’s where that potential comes from. And that potential will be there until we get the hot spots out.”

Sanchez said fire crews often rely on backpack pumps or helicopter drops. No aerial water drops have been used for this fire.

“Having a constant supply of water for those folks is a pretty big deal,” she said.

Fire forecast

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