Crews Continue Work on Golden Fire

March 23, 2011

Get the most current updates from the Jefferson County Sheriff's blog

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Update 3:15pm 3/23 -- Jefferson County officials have closed Hwy 6 between Golden and to the Gilpin County line.  Water drops on the fire have increased rockfall risk above the road.  Officials say they don't know when the highway could re-open.

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Firefighters are slowly getting the upper hand on the wildfire burning west of Golden, which is now around one quarter contained.  Nearly 300 firefighters from dozens of agencies are battling the blazeand a federal incident team took control early this morning.  A halfdozen aircraft have resumed water and retardant drops, concentrating on the northern side of the fire.

Incident commanders are urging nearby residents to use this time to create defensible space around their homes.

Despite high winds overnight, crews were able to keep the fire from spreading and evacuated residents were allowed back into their homes, although they were warned to be ready to leave again.

Officials were sounding cautiously optimistic by the end of Tuesday.  Despite the wind, cooler temperatures made battling the fire easier yesterday.  Safety Officer Kris Brewer led journalists on a tour of some of the burned area.  The canyon's steep hillsides were scorched and bare and smoke billowed from patches in the trees.

BREWER: "The main fire has already gone through, so what you're seeing is just the logs and the dirt and the heat that's still there that's just burning a little."

Behind Brewer was one of two homes fire crews worked to save Monday night.  Those were the only structures threatened and none so far have been damaged.  Golden mayor Jacob Smith says he's hearing a lot of praise for the firefighters on scene.

SMITH: "The firefighters are ending up with lots of coffee and candy bars and treats and so on just because the residents are so grateful."

The fire has consumed more than 1200 acres since it started Sunday morning. Fire officials believe it was human caused, because there wasn't any lightening when it started, but they aren't releasing any further details.