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Audio: Firefighters Thought They Had More Time

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An image from Copter4 (credit: CBS)

An image from Copter4 (credit: CBS)

DENVER (AP) — Firefighters battling a wildfire in the foothills near Denver misjudged how long it would take to reach nearby homes.

Radio traffic between firefighters and dispatchers released Wednesday shows the confusion early in the March 26 wildfire blamed for three deaths.

Authorities apparently were unaware of either the speed of the fire or the proximity of houses once the fire spread beyond a drainage area that triggered an official call for evacuations.

A firefighter estimated that it would take about two hours before it hit homes. Authorities pressed for the estimate because they were also responding to another fire. Dispatch records show the first home burned about an hour after the evacuation call.

Firefighters were working with maps that were 18 years old and a fire lookout had to flee from the fire’s path.

By P. Solomon Banda, AP Writer (© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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