A fire fanned by high winds west of Colorado Springs had grown to least 1,205 acres as of Friday afternoon, officials said.
The 403 fire started south of Lake George in Park County on Thursday morning before spreading to Teller County, forcing dozens to evacuate, according to the Teller County Sheriff’s Office. Officials said the fire started on a county road, west of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.
“We don’t know how the fire is going to go. We’re supposed to have some wind gusts up to 50-some miles per hour and sustained winds around 27 to 29 mph,” Sheriff Jason Mikesell said during a news conference Friday morning.
In a video posted to Facebook about 4 p.m., Mikesell said there had been no significant spread since the morning briefing, despite high winds, and no injuries had been reported nor structures lost. U.S. 24 remained open, he said.
Firefighters with Park and Teller counties, alongside the U.S. Forest Service, worked to protect buildings in the area, he said. The fire is burning about 5 miles south of Lake George and 29 miles west of Colorado Springs.
Officials called for evacuations within a mile of the fire’s origin about 30 minutes after the fire was reported by a resident at 10:52 a.m. Thursday, Lt. Jennifer Plutt with the Park County Sheriff’s Office said.
The sheriff’s office is working with the Forest Service to investigate the cause of the fire, she said. In an update Friday night, the cause of the fire was listed as “human” and remained under investigation, per the 403 fire InciWeb page.
The website listed the potential for the fire to spread was “moderate” through the weekend, and 123 people were onsite to fight the fire.
Although fire officials had requested aerial assistance, high winds made it impossible for helicopters and planes to safely conduct operations, officials said on Facebook.
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment issued an air quality alert for parts of Park and Teller counties Friday, urging people to stay inside if the smoke becomes too thick. “Strong, gusty, southwesterly winds” are expected to continue and smoke could spread to areas northeast of the fire, the department said.
High winds with gusts up to 50 mph were forecast through Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
The county entered a Stage 2 fire ban, prohibiting all open burning.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Lt. Jennifer Plutt with the Park County Sheriff’s Office.