Bluebell Fire Evacuees Allowed To Return Home
GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES
EVERGREEN, Colo. (CBS4/AP) – The incident commander for a fire that prompted evacuations in the foothills near Evergreen says the blaze isn’t controlled yet but is fully contained.
Firefighters took advantage of cooler temperatures and higher humidity on Tuesday to fully contain the wildfire estimated at 10 acres about 30 miles west of Denver.
About 140 residents remained evacuated Tuesday while firefighters battle the blaze, but they were all allowed to go home around 8 p.m., according to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jacki Kelley.
Incident Commander Bill Easterling told residents the fire wasn’t controlled, but crews had finished building containment lines.
Utility crews have restored power to about 360 homes.
The fire broke out Monday afternoon on the property of 33528 Bluebell Circle. Kelley said Tuesday morning the fire still was threatening about 100 homes in the foothills west of Denver Tuesday morning.
Tuesday afternoon Kelley said the fire was caused by a 48-foot tree that fell into two power lines. She said the cost of the fire so far was estimated at $80,000.
The fire did not lay down overnight like they were hoping and it was still very hot and active. There was active firefighting overnight. Kelley said they were “surprised” by the fire’s behavior overnight.
Firefighters took advantage of cooler temperatures and higher humidity Tuesday to contain the smoldering 10-acre wildfire. No homes have been destroyed and no injuries have been reported.
Temperatures dropped into the 60s Tuesday with 60 percent humidity, helping firefighters who aimed to dig a 200-foot-wide containment line around the fire. As of 4:30 p.m. they had achieved a 100-foot line.
A Level 3 evacuation was issued to residents within four miles of Bluebell Circle on Monday. They were told to leave their homes immediately. Evacuees were told to go to Conifer High School.
At an 8 p.m. news conference Monday Kelley said most of the residents were being allowed back in their homes but she said they need to get things in order and be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice on Tuesday.
“Level 3 means, ‘Get out now. You don’t have time to pack your stuff, get your collectables and your important papers. You need to go,’ ” Mark Techmeyer with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said. “That’s the highest evacuation level we have.”
It isn’t known exactly how many people were affected. Sheriff’s officials say they sent about 9,900 emergency calls, but some homes receive multiple calls to different phone numbers.
PHOTO GALLERY: Bluebell Fire
Sheriff’s officials in neighboring Clear Creek County said some homes lost power, and they went going door to door to evacuate some homes.
One helicopter was dropping water on the scene from the air. A single-engine air tanker (SEAT) was also helping fight the fire Monday but Kelley said they didn’t need it on Tuesday.
Smoke from the fire could be seen from miles away.
Evergreen is in the foothills about 30 miles west of Denver.
In March 2012, a wildfire caused by a prescribed burn that went out of control killed three Jefferson County residents, destroyed or damaged 27 houses, and charred about 2 square miles.
That fire exposed weaknesses in an emergency alert system, and sheriff’s officials concluded that about 12 percent of the people authorities intended to notify didn’t get a warning.
Jefferson County sheriff’s officials said they used a new system to send emergency calls to residents this time.
Fire danger is currently high to extreme in parts of Colorado.
Meanwhile in southwest Colorado, a 75-acre fire is burning near Creede. It is 50 percent contained. Fire officials say that blaze threatened three homes.
Firefighters also were sent to the Weminuche Wilderness Area in southwest Colorado to put out a small fire that broke out on Monday.
A Hotshot team, two air tankers and two helicopters were moved to the Durango Air Tanker Base to help fight any fires.
– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Wildfire Resources section.
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