State Forest Service: We’re Sorry

Colorado State Forest Service: We’re Sorry

The Colorado State Forest Service is apologizing for causing a wildfire in Jefferson County. The state agency conducted a controlled burn last week that reignited this week causing the deadly wildfire.

“This is heartbreaking, and we’re sorry,” said Joe Duda, deputy state forester with the Colorado State Forest Service.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has suspended controlled burns until an independent review can be conducted.

Full statement from State Forest Service

Firefighters begin containing fire

Authorities say the Lower North Fork Fire is now about 15 percent contained. 

“We have had a good day a very successful day on this fire,” Jacki Kelley, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, said.

The wildfire in Jefferson County has killed two people, damaged 27 buildings and burned about 4,140 acres. 

Kelley said firefighters began creating a perimeter around the fire today. She said the fire line is now estimated to be 8.5 miles. Air operations dropped 4,100 gallons of retardant on the fire in addition to continuous water drops. About 500 firefighters are battling the blaze.

She said the wildfire is expected to grow only minimally tonight and tomorrow.

A 32-member search and rescue team is using six dogs to try to find a missing woman in the fire zone. The search covered about 60 acres around her home today. A crew also is trying to sift through the rubble of her home but the scene remains hot, making the work difficult.

Firefighters say tough battle ahead

Firefighters battling the Lower North Fork Fire in Jefferson County say the rough terrain is hampering progress in containing the wildfire.

CPR's Ben Markus visited the command center where firefighters are rotating in and out from fighting the blaze that's killed two people, destroyed 27 homes and scorched 3,790 acres. 

Markus reports that firefighters say this isn't the most intense fire they've seen. But the steep and rocky terrain is making it difficult to dig containment lines.

Authorities Hopeful As Containment Work Begins

The number of firefighters battling the Lower North Fork Fire in Jefferson County doubled overnight, raising hopes that they can begin to contain the wildfire. 

“If we have a good day we can make a lot of progress,” Jacki Kelley, a spokeswoman with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said, “ With all that air support and with all of the people on the ground, we’re very hopeful.”

The fire is at zero percent containment. It has scorched about seven square miles and destroyed or damaged 27 homes. Two people have died and a woman is missing. People in 900 homes have been ordered to evacuate and people in another 6,500 homes are on standby.

Kelley said about 200 firefighters focused on protecting homes yesterday. Today, about 400 firefighters are on the scene. Air support today includes two tankers, an airplane and four helicopters. More aircraft are being ordered.

A 32-member search and rescue team from Colorado began looking for the missing woman this morning. The team is using six dogs to search near the woman’s home. 

[Photo: Jefferson County Sheriff's Department]