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Colorado: Front Range wildfires claim one life

Lower North Fork Fire grows to 3,000 acres

Widespread red flag fire danger warnings were in effect March 26.

An air tanker working a Front Range wildfire in 2010. PHOTO COURTESY USFS.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — It didn’t take any lightning or beetle-killed trees for a spate of dangerous wildfires to break out across the Colorado Front Range, just a few weeks of unusually warm weather and a day of high winds, with a red flag fire warning in effect for large parts of Colorado. Fire news from official sources and from residents is streaming on Twitter at #CoFires.

Aerial video streaming live at Denver’s Channel 9 website.

And one of the fires turned deadly late Monday, as the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office confirmed one death in the 3,000-acre Lower North Fork fire zone, where numerous residents have been evacuated. Fire officials also confirmed that several structures have been destroyed by the wind-driven fires, but exactly how many homes were burned is still unclear.

According to the sheriff’s office, the fire is mainly  burning on the ground with some fire in the tree canopies. Officials anticipate the fire to burn for an extended period of time. Current winds are at about 20 MPH – 30 MPH and are blowing in all directions.

Fire crews will be out all night focusing on structure protection. This is a defensive mode because crews are unable to get in front of the fire. Spotting has been seen half a mile to 1 mile ahead of the fire, indicating the fire is still active and moving. About 100 firefighters are working the fire

A Type 1 Federal Incident Management Team has been ordered and should be on site in the next day or two. Air support is also on order but that will be purely dependent on the wind. More winds are in the forecast for Tuesday, which could drive continued erratic fire behavior.
Animal evacuations, both large and small, can be taken to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

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