Emergency declared as wildfire moves closer to Pueblo

Emergency declared as wildfire moves closer to Pueblo”

More than 200 firefighters, 40-50 law enforcement officers, and myriad support personnel are working to beat back a fast-moving grassfire, dubbed #117Fire, that sparked Tuesday afternoon near I-25 mile marker 117, south of Fountain.

A red flag warning remains in effect across much of southern Colorado until 10 p.m., and El Paso County is under stage II fire restrictions. No injuries were reported.

People living in an area bordered by I-25 on the west, Hanover Road on the north, Peyton Highway to the east and County Line Road on the south were ordered to leave their homes. The Pueblo Chemical Depot had stored more than 2,600 tons of mustard agent in projectiles.

The PCAPP began operating in September of 2016 to safely destroy a chemical weapons stockpile at the site. Schools in the town of Hanover also were evacuated, the sheriff's office said on Twitter at about 2:30 p.m. A shelter has been set up at Fountain Valley Baptist Church for those displaced. Within two hours, the fire had crept across the county line into Pueblo County.

The sheriff's office says the shifting winds have made it hard for firefighters to set up a containment, and no estimate on size was given as of 4:20 p.m.

Elder said the county hopes to deploy air resources and water drops as soon as 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The county has been receiving assistance from a variety of agencies, including Fort Carson, which agreed to suspend training exercises Wednesday to provide resources to help fight the fire. For now, he says they are focused on "chasing the head" of the fire and getting people out of its way.

The grass fires are causing delays in the area and drivers are warned to stay away.

- Evacuations for a large fire burning in El Paso and Pueblo counties will remain in place overnight, and local authorities have asked the state to take over command of the fire. (PHOTOS) Elder hinted at the state of Colorado stepping in to lead the firefighting effort, and a disaster declaration for the county was signed Tuesday night.

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