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Crews Have Success Fighting Indian Gulch Fire

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The Indian Gulch Fire in 2011 (credit: CBS)

The Indian Gulch Fire in 2011 (credit: CBS)

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4)- The Indian Gulch Fire is 77 percent contained Thursday afternoon. It’s burned 1,700 acres in steep, rugged terrain west of Golden.

On Thursday, fire crews had great success on the north side of the fire, closest to Golden Gate Canyon Road. Fire crews will remain on duty overnight, monitoring the fire.

The fire has been eating through grass, brush and trees in two rugged canyons outside Golden since Sunday morning. Authorities said they went door-to-door through the affected area Monday to make sure everyone had left. Residents of hundreds more homes were told to be ready to leave.

Ground and air resources will begin to de-mobilize starting Friday, depending on fire behavior. No water or retardant was dropped on the fire Thursday, although aircraft supervised and observed ground operations.

Crews will be doing more work along Highway 6 in Clear Creek Canyon on Friday. Highway 6 will remain closed Thursday night into Friday morning. Fire and law enforcement officials will work with the Colorado Department of Transportation to reassess the safety of the roadway.

Golden Gate Canyon Road remains closed to non-local traffic between Catamount and Crawford Gulch. Golden Gate Canyon Road is open to all canyon area residents between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Between 7 p.m. and midnight, local traffic will require a deputy escort to travel through the canyon. At midnight, Golden Gate Canyon Road will be opened completely to all traffic.

PHOTO GALLERY: More Images Of The Fire

space Crews Have Success Fighting Indian Gulch Fire

Officials suspect the fire was human-caused.

No injuries have been reported and no structures have burned. Jefferson County sheriff’s spokesman Mark Techmeyer said flames moved past two homes overnight Monday into Tuesday but firefighters were able to save both. Firefighting costs have totaled $680,000 so far.

Although the Colorado mountains and their ski resorts have above-average snowpack, the lower foothills and high plains east of the Rockies have had little moisture since August, said Tim Mathewson, a fire meteorologist for the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center, which coordinates federal, state and local firefighting.

“It hasn’t been just the last couple weeks. This is part of an extended dry period,” he said.

Eastern Colorado hasn’t been this dry since 2002 or 2003, Mathewson said, and fire danger could remain high until mid-April, when vegetation begins to green up with spring weather.

Colorado had one of its worst wildfire seasons in 2002, when fires charred more than 332,000 acres through June of that year, including 138,000 acres — or 215 square miles — burned in the Hayman Fire, the largest wildfire in state history.

Jefferson County, where the foothills fire was burning, and at least three other Colorado counties have banned open fires. Denver banned fires in its 18 mountain parks scattered across four counties. The Larimer County sheriff warned residents that fire danger was high, but the county hasn’t barred fires.

A wind-driven blaze scorched 622 acres west of Boulder on March 11. More than 200 homes were evacuated for a few hours, but none was damaged.

LINK: Wildfire Resources

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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