Thick smoke blew through the western Laramie Valley on Saturday, a result of the still-growing Beaver Creek Fire in northern Colorado.

The fire was estimated at 14,344 acres in size Saturday afternoon, according to a press release from the Type III incident management team now overseeing the blaze. The fire was downgraded from a Type II incident to a Type III incident team on Thursday.

According to fire managers, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office asked the few remaining residents in Parsons Draw to leave well ahead of the fire's advance.

Heavy beetle-killed timber is the main source of fuel for the fire. As that type of timber is easily blown over, it is too dangerous for firefighters to directly engage the fire. Thus, fire managers are "allowing the natural process of the fire to occur while focusing their resources on the values at risk," including nearby buildings that are continually patrolled.

The firefighting force has been significantly drawn down -- 145 firefighters are currently assigned to the Beaver Creek Fire, a reduction of over 400 from the 562 assigned roughly two weeks ago.

The estimated containment date has been moved back. Initially projected for Aug. 1, it has been pushed back to Oct. 21.

The fire remains 5 percent contained, with the majority of burned acreage on the Routt National Forest.

The fire was first reported June 19, about 24 miles northwest of Walden, Colo. The cause is still under investigation. Anyone with information regarding suspicious activity in the Twisty Park area June 19 can contact U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Hannah Nadeau at 307-343-2335.j

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