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Indian Gulch fire near Golden: Human-caused, investigation underway (VIDEOS)

Update: With the end of the Indian Gulch fire near Golden finally in sight, officials can move on to the next step -- figuring out how it started. And while the folks at the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office aren't sharing any specifics about theories, they've concluded that it was human-caused.

Here's the JCSO release on that subject, followed by loads of previous coverage:

Jeffco Sheriff opening tipline for Indian Gulch Fire

Jefferson County Sheriff's investigators are seeking assistance from the public regarding the Indian Gulch Fire. The fire appears to have started along Indian Gulch north of Hwy 6. Investigators have ruled out all other viable ignition sources and have determined that the fire was human caused.

Sheriff's investigators are urging citizens to contact the tipline at 303-271-5612 to provide information regarding unusual activity or suspicious persons in the area between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 20th. The area of concern is Hwy 6 between tunnel 1 and Hwy 58, or Golden Gate Canyon Rd. between Mount Galbraith Park and Hwy 93.

Update, 7:18 a.m. March 25: At last, firefighters battling the Indian Gulch fire near Golden appear to have the upper hand on the blaze. The most recent estimate: 77 percent containment of a conflagration that's consumed around 1,700 acres, with crews confident enough of control that they sent three aircraft to help attack the Burning Tree fire near Franktown.

Below, see a series of photos taken on Highway 6 yesterday afternoon, followed by the latest release from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and some newly posted videos. Then page down to chronicle a week's worth of Indian Gulch coverage.

Indian Gulch fire near Golden: Human-caused, investigation underway (VIDEOS)
Courtesy Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
Indian Gulch fire near Golden: Human-caused, investigation underway (VIDEOS)
Courtesy Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
Indian Gulch fire near Golden: Human-caused, investigation underway (VIDEOS)
Courtesy Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
Indian Gulch fire near Golden: Human-caused, investigation underway (VIDEOS)
Courtesy Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release, 6:12 p.m.:

Indian Gulch Fire Update:

The Indian Gulch Fire is 77% contained, and has burned 1,700 acres.

On Thursday, fire crews had great success on the north side of the fire, closest to Golden Gate Canyon Road.

Fire crews will remain on duty overnight, monitoring the fire. Ground and air resources will begin to de-mobilize starting Friday, depending on fire behavior. No water or retardant was dropped on the fire today, although aircraft were supervising and observing ground operations.

Roadways:

On Friday, crews will be doing more work along Highway 6 in Clear Creek Canyon. Fire and law enforcement officials will work with CDOT Friday morning to reassess the safety of the roadway. Highway 6 will remain closed overnight tonight.

Golden Gate Canyon Road remains closed to non-local traffic between Catamount and Crawford Gulch. Golden Gate Canyon Road is open to all canyon area residents between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Between 7 p.m. and midnight, local traffic will require a deputy escort to travel through the canyon.

Beginning at midnight tonight, Golden Gate Canyon Road will be opened completely to all traffic. Deputies will be conducting extra patrols in the canyon throughout the night. The road will stay open Friday barring unexpected fire activity.

Other Fire Information:

The Type 1 IMT will likely be released mid-day on Saturday, at which time control of fire operations will return to local officials.

Residents of the Mountain Ridge subdivision in the city of Golden were released from their evacuation standby order around 5:30 on Thursday via an e911 phone call.

Late Thursday afternoon, incident commanders sent one helicopter and two SEATs to Douglas County to help with the fast-growing fire burning there.

 

Update, 12:40 p.m. March 24: The Indian Gulch fire near Golden is a high priority with the feds -- and now, Governor John Hickenlooper has stepped into the breach as well.

Hickenlooper has issued an emergency disaster declaration for the blaze, which authorizes $1.5 million in state aid to continue the fight.

Here's a release from the governor's office, followed by our previous coverage:

Gov. Hickenlooper issues emergency fire declaration

DENVER -- Thursday, March 24, 2011 -- Gov. John Hickenlooper today issued an emergency disaster declaration for the Indian Gulch Fire in Jefferson County. The executive order authorizes $1.5 million in state aid to help pay firefighting costs and directs the state to seek additional funds from the federal government if necessary.

"We are making all resources available to fight this fire near Golden," Hickenlooper said. "The very dry and gusty conditions are complicating firefighting efforts to control the blaze. These additional resources will help to reduce the loss of life and property."

The Indian Gulch Fire has spread to more than 1,500 acres, including state and private land. Currently, several area businesses and more than 280 homes are threatened. Approximately 37 agencies, including the Colorado State Forest Service, the U.S. Forest Service and local emergency teams, have responded to the wildfire by deploying a variety of resources, including approximately 290 firefighters, 30 engines, two air tankers and three helicopters.

Here is the full text of the Governor's order:

D 2011-08

EXECUTIVE ORDER

Declaring a Disaster Emergency Due to the Indian Gulch Fire in Jefferson County

Pursuant to the authority vested in the Governor of the State of Colorado and, in particular, pursuant to relevant portions of the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act of 1992, C.R.S. § 24-32-2100, et seq., John W. Hickenlooper, Governor of the State of Colorado, hereby issues this Executive Order declaring a state of disaster emergency due to the wildfire in Jefferson County, Colorado.

I. Background and Purpose

On Sunday, March 20, 2011, a wildfire ("Indian Gulch Fire") broke out west of Golden in Jefferson County in between Golden Gate and Clear Creek Canyons. As of the morning of March 24th, the fire has spread to more than 1,500 acres, including state and private lands. Over 280 homes are currently threatened as well as several area businesses. In addition, gusty winds and dry weather threaten to exacerbate the fire. Because of the fire's proximity to state lands, the city of Golden, and residences in Golden Gate Canyon, an aggressive response is essential. Approximately 37 agencies, including the Colorado State Forest Service, the U.S. Forest Service and local emergency teams, have responded to the wildfire by deploying a variety of resources, including approximately 290 firefighters, 30 engines, two air tankers and three helicopters.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA") has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs. FEMA's authorization makes federal funding available to reimburse seventy-five percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for responding to and controlling designated fires.

The Governor is responsible for meeting the dangers to the state and people presented by disasters. The Colorado Disaster Emergency Act of 1992, defines a disaster as "the occurrence or imminent threat of widespread or severe damages, injury or loss of life or property resulting from any natural cause or cause of human origin, including but not limited to . . . fire." C.R.S. § 24-32-2103(1.5). The Indian Gulch Fire's proximity to state lands, the city of Golden, and residences in Golden Gate Canyon pose an imminent danger to life and property and, therefore, constitute a disaster for the purposes of the Act.

II. Declaration and Directives

A. The Indian Gulch Fire hereby constitutes a disaster emergency for the purposes of C.R.S. § 24-32-2103.

B. The State Emergency Operations Plan ("Plan") is hereby activated. All State departments and agencies shall take whatever actions may be required and requested by the Director of the Division of Emergency Management or the Colorado State Forest Service, including provision of appropriate staff and equipment as necessary.

C. Pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-32-2106, the funds in the Disaster Emergency Fund are hereby found insufficient; therefore, pursuant to Section 1 (2)(b)(I) of Ch. 453, Session Laws of Colorado 2010, it is ordered that $1,500,000 be transferred from the Major Medical Insurance Fund to the Disaster Emergency Fund. It is further ordered that up to $1,500,000 from the Disaster Emergency Fund is encumbered to pay for the response and recovery efforts related to the Indian Gulch Fire since its inception. The Colorado State Forester is hereby authorized and directed to allocate the funding to the appropriate government agencies. These funds shall remain available for this purpose for one year from the date of this Executive Order, and any unexpended funds shall remain in the Disaster Emergency Fund.

D. The Director of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management and the Colorado State Forest Service are authorized and directed to coordinate application to the federal government for funds available for reimbursement and to coordinate application for any other funds available related to this disaster emergency.

III. Duration

This Executive Order shall expire thirty days from its date of signature unless extended further by Executive Order, except that the funds described in paragraph II(C) above shall remain available for the described purposes for one year from the date of this Executive Order.

GIVEN under my hand and the Executive Seal of the State of Colorado this twenty-fourth day of March, 2011.

John W. Hickenlooper Governor

Update, 10:53 a.m. March 24: The Indian Gulch fire near Golden is a top wildfire priority nationally; at this writing, it's in the number one slot on the feds' Inciweb.org website.

And while the winds that were helping to fuel the blaze have died down to a significant degree, they did significant damage, increasing the number of burned acres from around 1,200 to 1,502.

Here's the latest from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, followed by our earlier coverage.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release, 9:43 a.m.:

Lower temperatures and wind speeds aided firefighters on the Indian Gulch Fire burning to the West of Golden, Colorado in unincorporated Jefferson County. Hand crews extended existing fire lines on the South and Southeast perimeters as the fire grew 300 acres for a total of 1,502 acres burned to date. The Indian Gulch Fire remains 25% containment with a total of 401 personnel working representing over 40 local, State, and Federal agencies on the fire.

"There has been tremendous community support for the firefighters' efforts which has directly benefited all the work done so far on the fire" said Incident Commander Rowdy Muir of the Great Basin Incident Management Team. "Our work has also been significantly aided by our working relationship with Sheriff Mink and everyone at the Sheriff's Office, Jefferson County, and the Colorado State Forest Service and is an excellent example of the benefits of interagency cooperation for suppressing interface fires such as the Indian Gulch Fire."

A Stage 2 Fire Ban is currently in place for all areas of incorporated Jefferson County to include all Federal lands.

Fire Statistics:

• Date started: March 20, 2011, 10:15 am

• Acreage: 1,502

• Structures Threatened: 287

• Air Resources: 1 Type 1 Helicopter, 1 Type 2 Helicopter, 1 Type 3 Helicopter, 2 Single Engine Air Tankers, 1 Fixed Wing Heavy Tanker.

• Closures: Golden Gate Canyon Drive, US Highway 6.

• Containment: 25%

Update, 7:28 a.m. March 24: The Indian Gulch fire hasn't laid down and died yet. Indeed, most recent estimates continue to put containment at just 25 percent -- although firefighters are confident they'll reach the 80 percent threshold by this weekend. Moreover, the acres destroyed to date remain in the 1,200 acre range. Could today finally mark the turning point in the fight?

Look below to see the latest updates from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, including a new map of the burn area. Also on view: a couple of videos that demonstrate how window conditions have been along the foothills. Then page down to read our earlier coverage.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office releases:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011: Evening Indian Gulch Fire update

The following are updates to the Indian Gulch Fire as of Wednesday evening:

• The fire is 25% contained. • Six additional fire crews arrived Wednesday. Fire managers do not anticipate the need for any additional fire crews. • On Wednesday, crews launched a direct attack on the north side of the fire, meaning that they began digging fire line along the north side. • A Type 1 helicopter was able to fly most of the day, and launched multiple successful air attacks on the fire (water drops). It dropped 1,000-1,200 gallons of water at a time. Ralston Reservoir was used for dipping. • Some large rocks were dislodged on the south perimeter of the fire due to the large water drops. As a result, Highway 6 was closed as a precaution. No rocks fell on the road. Highway 6 will remain closed until further notice. • Type 2 and Type 3 helicopters were also used today. • No SEATs were used today due to erratic winds. • The threat to homes on the east end of the fire has diminished greatly. • None of the firefighters has been injured. 5:42 PM

New map of fire area as of Wednesday evening

Indian Gulch fire near Golden: Human-caused, investigation underway (VIDEOS)

The multi-agency IMT has released this new map of the fire's area. The fire has grown to 1,500 acres. 5:29 PM

Evacuation center to close; Red Cross will remain on standby

From The Red Cross: The Red Cross will close the evacuation center at the First United Methodist Church, 1500 Ford St. in Golden, at 3 p.m. today. The Red Cross will remain on standby to meet feeding and sheltering needs related to the Indian Gulch fire should conditions change. Residents affected by the Indian Gulch fire who have questions or disaster-related needs can contact the Red Cross Mile High Chapter at 303-722-7474. 3:08 PM

Highway 6 temporarily closed from Hwy. 119-Hwy 58

Highway 6 is temporarily closed from Highway 119 to Highway 58 pending a heavy water drop on the fire nearby. The closure is a precaution, in case the water drop causes a rockslide. 2:00 PM

Update on fire as of 1:30 p.m.

Favorable weather conditions have aided fire crews as they continue to fight the Indian Gulch Fire burning less than a mile away from the Town of Golden. The fire is burning in steep, treacherous terrain amongst a mixed conifer forest where there is no road access. Helicopters and fixed wing aircraft have resumed dropping water and fire retardant along the perimeter of the fire. The Indian Gulch Fire has burned a total of 1211 acres.

Access to Golden Gate Canyon Road remains restricted and residents are encouraged to maintain a heightened awareness should an evacuation be ordered. Fire crews are concentrating resources on the north, northwestern corridor of the fire. "While the fire remains a few miles away from Golden Gate Canyon Drive, this is an excellent opportunity for residents to prepare their homes by creating defensible space, and themselves by putting together kits with personal belongings," said Incident Commander Rowdy Muir.

There are a total of 290 firefighters on the Indian Gulch Fire. Crews represent firefighters from local, state, and federal agencies within and outside the state of Colorado. A National Incident Management Team from the Great Basin assumed command of the Indian Gulch Fire at 0600 this morning.

FIRE STATISTICS

• Date started: March 20, 2011, 10:15 am • Acreage: 1211 • Structures Threatened: 287 • Air Resources: 1 Type 1 Helicopter, 1 Type 2 Helicopter, 1 Type 3 Helicopter, 2 single engine air tankers (SEAT), 1 fixed wing heavy tanker. • Closures: Golden Gate Canyon Road. • Containment: 25% 1:39 PM

Air tactical resources active

Fire crews are being assisted by an air crew that is flying above the fire and observing any changes in fire behavior. The air crew can relay information about fire behavior to crews on the ground. These "eyes in the sky" are currently ensuring that commanders are aware of the fire's breadth and activity. 1:26 PM

 

Update, 3:09 p.m. March 23: Crews have had a fighting chance against the Indian Gulch fire near Golden today, with the winds easing up enough to allow aircraft to join in the battle. However, as the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office notes, there's no road access to the area where the flames are most stubborn. Meanwhile, access to Golden Gate Canyon Drive is restricted and structures remain under threat.

New details below, followed by our previous coverage.

INDIAN GULCH FIRE UPDATE MARCH 23, 2011

Favorable weather conditions have aided fire crews as they continue to fight the Indian Gulch Fire burning less than a mile away from the Town of Golden. The fire is burning in steep, treacherous terrain amongst a mixed conifer forest where there is no road access. Helicopters and fixed wing aircraft have resumed dropping water and fire retardant along the perimeter of the fire. The Indian Gulch Fire has burned a total of 1211 acres.

Access to Golden Gate Canyon Drive remains restricted and residents are encourage to maintain a heightened awareness should an evacuation be ordered. Fire crews are concentrating resources on the north, northwestern corridor of the fire. "While the fire remains a few miles away from Golden Gate Canyon Drive, this is an excellent opportunity for residents to prepare their homes by creating defensible space and themselves by putting together kits with personal belongings" said Incident Commander Rowdy Muir.

There are a total of 290 firefighters on the Indian Gulch Fire. Crews represent firefighters from local, State, and Federal agencies within and outside the State of Colorado. A National Incident Management Team from the Great Basin assumed command of the Indian Gulch Fire at 0600 this morning.

FIRE STATISTICS

• Date started: March 20, 2011, 10:15 am

• Acreage: 1211

• Structures Threatened: 287

• Air Resources: 1 Type 1 Helicopter, 1 Type 2 Helicopter, 1 Type 3 Helicopter, 2 Single Engine Air Tankers, 1 Fixed Wing Heavy Tanker.

• Closures: Golden Gate Canyon Drive.

• Containment: 25%

• The Public Information Office for the Indian Gulch Fire is located at the Human Services Building, 900 Jefferson County Parkway, Golden, Colorado, 80401.

Update, 9:25 a.m. March 23: Some good news about the Indian Gulch fire near Golden. According to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the winds may have subsided enough that aircraft will be able to support the 290 firefighters currently fighting the blaze on the ground. In addition, containment is up to 25 percent. But the risks of damage to more acreage remains high, and there's still no word on a possible cause.

Here are the latest details from the JCSO, followed by our earlier coverage:

Media briefing, continued

• Cause of the fire is still under investigation. 8:46 AM

Media briefing taking place

• Air resources may be able to fly longer today with reduced winds.

• No injuries, no structure damage.

• Expecting a type 1 helicopter, a type 2 and a type 3, as well as 2 SEATs to fly today if conditions are favorable.

• The Type 1 team's involvement allows some local resources to be released to handle other local community needs. 8:41 AM

Golden Gate Canyon Road status -- Wednesday

Until further notice, the road will be open to local traffic only. Motorists may be asked to show ID by officials at roadblocks, to ensure that only local traffic passes through. Other motorists will be turned away. It is still important to minimize Golden Gate Canyon Road traffic for the safety and maneuverability of fire crews stationed inside the canyon.

Residents should remain on standby in the event of evacuations. 8:03 AM

Fire command

The Type 1 incident management team (IMT) took over command of fire operations officially at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. Local fire crews remain involved in fighting the fire. 7:29 AM

Fire officials are briefing

Fire remains at about 25 percent containment. No significant growth overnight despite gusts of 75 mph. There are 290 firefighters here in support. 7:03 AM

Update, 6:47 a.m. March 23: The firefighting crews working the Indian Gulch fire near Golden must be miracle workers. Despite winds strong enough to stagger the average person, the size of the blaze remains at around 1,200 acres. But containment remains stuck at 20 percent, and the elements are expected to provide another test today, with more windy conditions predicted. Photos, new videos and details below.

A Jefferson County Sheriff's Office photo of the Indian Gulch fire from a distance.
A Jefferson County Sheriff's Office photo of the Indian Gulch fire from a distance.

Here are the most recent Jefferson County Sheriff's Office posts about the conflagration, all from March 22.

Golden Gate Canyon Road to open at 7:30 tonight

Evacuated residents of Golden Gate Canyon may return to their homes beginning at 7:30 p.m. The road will be open to local traffic only. Motorists may be asked to show ID by officials at roadblocks, to ensure that only local traffic passes through. Other motorists will be turned away. It is still important to minimize Golden Gate Canyon Road traffic for the safety and maneuverability of fire crews stationed inside the canyon.

Residents should remain on standby in the event of evacuations. 7:22 PM

Winds push smoke over west metro area

The city of Golden and the nearby areas are experiencing significant smoke wafting over from the Indian Gulch Fire. Jeffco Public Health has advice for avoiding health problems caused by smoke exposure: http://www.co.jefferson.co.us/news/news_item_T3_R2132.htm 7:16 PM

Large turnout of agencies for Indian Gulch Fire

The Incident Management Team has counted 37 agencies working on the Indian Gulch Fire in firefighting, EMS, law enforcement and support roles. 7:14 PM

An area burned by the Indian Gulch fire, as seen in a Jefferson County Sheriff's Office photo.
An area burned by the Indian Gulch fire, as seen in a Jefferson County Sheriff's Office photo.

Below, see newly posted videos of the fire. Then page down for day's worth of previous coverage.

 

Update, 4:45 p.m. March 22: As anyone who's driven along the foothills west of Denver in the past hour or so knows from personal experience, the winds are ferocious -- and that's hampering efforts to put down the Indian Gulch fire near Golden. The latest update from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office notes that all aircraft assigned to fight the blaze are currently grounded as a safety precaution.

Here are the details, followed by loads of earlier coverage.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release, 4:01 p.m.:

Indian Gulch Fire update

As of March 22, 2011 at 3:00 p.m., the status of the Indian Gulch fire is as follows:

• The Fire is approximately 20-25% contained. • The fire is creeping and smoldering in Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir, mostly on the north, northwestern flank of the fire though the fire remains active on all of its perimeters. • 7,000 gallons of fire retardant has been dropped, mostly on the south, southwest perimeters of the fire. • All aircraft are currently grounded due to increased winds over the fire ground. • Evacuations are still in place and Golden Gate Canyon Road remains closed for safety during fire operations. • The current cost of the fire to date is $680,000.00

Update, 2:45 p.m. March 22: Despite weather conditions that are far from ideal, firefighters battling the Indian Gulch fire near Golden appear to be making progress. According to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the blaze is between 20 and 25 percent contained -- a significant improvement considering that crews have been stuck at 15 percent since yesterday.

But the winds are expected to pick up this afternoon -- and if they do, the danger of a reversal may increase as well.

Look below to see the most recent series of updates from the JCSO, which has been doing a good job of keeping folks up to date. That's followed by our earlier coverage.

Type 1 incident management team (IMT) en route The Type 1 Incident Management Team arriving later today is the Great Basin Type 1 team. This team also worked the recent Fourmile and Reservoir Road fires in Colorado. 2:22 PM

Note to residents seeking access Residents who live above Crawford Gulch are advised to use Hwy 6 to Hwy 119 to Douglas Mountain Road. Golden Gate Canyon Road remains closed from Catamount Drive on the east to Crawford Gulch Road on the west. 1:42 PM

Indian Gulch Fire Behavior Update The Indian Gulch Fire has been creeping and smoldering throughout the day. It has not grown significantly in size. However, afternoon winds are expected to pick up -- which may increase fire activity, and may force air support to stay grounded.

Evacuations are still in place, and Golden Gate Canyon Road remains closed for safety during fire operations. 1:30 PM

SEATs and helicopters temporarily grounded Air support is temporarily grounded due to wind conditions. 1:14 PM

Fire Containment Update Incident commanders are reporting that the Indian Gulch Fire is 20-25% contained as of this time. 12:49 PM

In-person information for residents A Jefferson County Incident Management Team public information officer is stationed at the 7-Eleven at Highway 93 and Washington in Golden for residents who are nearby and have questions. 12:41 PM

Update, 9:49 a.m. March 22: Just received a new release from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office about the Indian Gulch fire near Golden. The facts are similar to those the JCSO posted earlier this morning, but they feature more precise numbers -- 1,162 acres burned, as compared to the rounded-off 1,200 figure -- and confirmation that two structures required special protection that saved them for now.

Here's the latest release, followed by our earlier coverage.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release, 9:34 a.m.:

Indian Gulch Fire update

Status as of March 22, 2011 at 7:30 a.m.

As of March 22, 2011 at 7:30 a.m., the status of the Indian Gulch fire is as follows:

• 1162 acres burned • 15% containment • 200 firefighters working the fire • Fire moved west overnight; 2 homes required structure protection • Of the 100 reverse 911 calls issuing evacuation orders yesterday, 17 were to homes while with the other calls were local businesses. • 2 Single Engine Air Tankers making fire retardant drops • 2 helicopters making water drops • Wind gusts of up to 70 mph are expected today which could result in a small window of opportunity for air support. • Golden Gate Canyon Road is closed from Catamont Drive to Crawford Gulch.

Update, 8:29 a.m. March 22: The news keeps getting worse in regard to the Indian Gulch fire near Golden. The number of acres burned is now officially at 1,200, up from the previous estimate of 850, containment remains stuck at 15 percent, and winds could gust as high as 75 miles per hour -- a recipe for flame-fanning if ever there was one. Look below for the latest details and our previous coverage.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release:

Indian Gulch Fire Update

• Nearly 1,200 acres have burned • The fire is 15% contained • Fire officials expect two single-engine air tankers and two helicopters to be available to fight the fire this morning. • High winds are expected today, with gusts as high as 75 MPH • 200 firefighters will be working the fire today, with hand crews arriving from out of state • A Type 1 incident management team will arrive this evening to take over fire management

Update, 6:59 a.m.: The Indian Gulch fire near Golden continues to burn. As of 7 p.m. last night, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, 850 acres had been burned, and despite the efforts of 120 firefighters working the perimeter of the fire, containment remains at 15 percent -- the same figure as this time yesterday. Given that two other, lesser blazes flickered yesterday, too, it's no wonder Jeffco has instituted a fire ban.

An evacuation order remains in place for 125 homes in the Golden Gate Canyon area, with other homeowners warned to be ready to decamp at a moment's notice.

This evening, a Type I Incident Management Team is expected to arrive and assist with management of the fire.

Below, find JCSO releases about the declaration of an emergency in the area, as well as wrap-up items about smaller conflagrations in Evergreen and Conifer, which have now been resolved. In addition, check out a document outlining the specifics of the fire ban, plus several new videos of the blaze. That's followed by our previous coverage.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release, 7:40 p.m. March 21:

Jeffco under fire ban; commissioners declare disaster

Because of three wildfires, which have affected areas west of Highway 6 near Golden; Evergreen's Soda Creek Subdivision; and Conifer and Spring Creek, The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is implementing a fire ban for all lands in unincorporated Jefferson County, including all federal lands. Certain activities are strictly prohibited; see the inclusive list attached. The ban went into effect March 21, 2011 at 5:00 p.m.

The fires are in areas where it is difficult for emergency services to respond and weather us under Red Flag conditions, which will increase the risk of additional fires. The need for outside resources to include air and ground resources will exceed Jefferson County's capabilities. Because of this, the Jefferson County Commissioners today issued a Disaster/Emergency Declaration.

The declaration will enable Jefferson County to access additional state and federal resources as well as seek recovery of some costs associated with the fires.

Jefferson County Temporary Fire Ban

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release, 8:09 p.m. March 21:

Evergreen fire lifted

As of 7:00 p.m, firefighters expect 100% containment of the Evergreen fire fire by midnight tonight. All evacuations from the Evergreen fire have been lifted and all residents have been cleared to return home. The evacuation center at Evergreen High School has been closed.

Additional Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release:

Elk Creek Fire (Conifer Area)

On March 21, 2011 at about 2:00 p.m., there was a fire in the area of Highway 285 and Kings Valley Road. The fire has been 100% contained after burning about 2 acres. One out-building was burned before it was contained. There were no reported injuries.

 

Update, 3:38 p.m. March 21: The pre-evacuation notices sent out earlier this afternoon mutated into actual evac alerts for residents of 100 homes in the Golden Gate Canyon area a short time ago. Others in the area are warned to be ready for evacuation on short notice.

Here's the latest from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, followed by our previous coverage.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release, 3:20 p.m.:

Indian Gulch Fire -- 100 homes evacuated

The status of the fire as of March 21, 2011 at 3:30 p.m.:

An Evacuation Notice for 100 homes in the Golden Gate Canyon Area has been issued.

The notice was put out through the reverse 911 system at about 2:45 p.m.

Other residents should be prepared to evacuate on short notice, if the need arises. If you are directed to evacuate, you will receive another reverse 911 call.

People with disabilities who may need additional assistance should call the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office at 303-271-0211 to make arrangements.

Residents with large animals are encouraged to move them now. Large animals can be taken to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Small animals can be dropped off at Foothills Animal Shelter.

Update, 1:18 p.m.: Hot on the heels of our previous update about the Indian Gulch fire near Golden comes a more ominous one: a pre-evacuation notice for 705 homes in the Golden Gate Canyon area.

Look below to get details from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, followed by our previous coverage.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release, 1:25 p.m.:

Indian Gulch Fire status update

The status of the fire as of March 21, 2011 at 12:45 p.m.:

Pre-Evacuation Notice for Golden Gate Canyon Area

Jefferson County, Colo. -- A pre-evacuation notice has just been issued to 705 homes in the Golden Gate Canyon area. The notice was put out through the reverse 911 system at about 12:45 p.m.

Residents should be prepared to evacuate on short notice, if the need arises. If you are directed to evacuate, you will receive another reverse 911 call.

People with disabilities who may need additional assistance should call the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office at 303-271-0211 to make arrangements.

Residents with large animals are encouraged to move them now. Large animals can be taken to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Small animals can be dropped off at Foothills Animal Shelter.

Update, 1:18 p.m.: The Indian Gulch fire continues to be a struggle, but at this writing, firefighters appear to be holding their own. According to the most recent update from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, the blaze has not grown significantly larger, despite 35 mile per hour winds. But neither have the various crews on hand gotten more of the conflagration under control. Details below, followed by our earlier coverage.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release, 12:36 p.m.:

Indian Gulch Fire status update

The status of the fire as of March 21, 2011 at 12:15 p.m.:

• Increased winds have been a challenge on the north flank of the fire, towards Golden Gate Canyon Road. Wind gusts of 35 mph forced crews to pull back into safety zones. The crews are re-engaging as conditions permit.

• Operations on the east end of the fire, toward the Mountain Ridge Subdivision, are going well.

• The fire is about 15 percent contained, along Hwy 6. Fire activity has been low along that south flank

• The Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) that was supposed to fly today is continuing to have communications problems. A second SEAT has been ordered and is en route from Idaho. It is anticipated both SEATs will be available by mid-afternoon.

• A Type 2 helicopter has been flying throughout the day. A second Type 2 helicopter is being ordered. Air support will be up as long as it is safe and effective.

• Relative humidity has dropped 17 percent in the past hour. Wind and weather conditions continue to be a concern.

• Animal evacuation teams are on standby, should they be needed.

Update, 9:09 a.m.: There's good news and bad news about the Indian Gulch fire near Golden. The good news? The blaze is now deemed 15 percent contained, as opposed to 0 percent as of last report yesterday. The bad news? The acreage damage is up to 700, from 550, and there's a red-flag warning for high winds. Get more details from the latest Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release below, followed by our earlier coverage.

 

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release:

Indian Gulch Fire status update

The status of the fire as of March 21, 2011 at 8:30 a.m.:

• Approximately 700 acres burned. 15% containment on the southeast edge which is the area above Hwy 6.

• A helicopter will be continuing with water drops.

• A single engine air tanker (SEAT) has been ordered.

• There will be approximately 90 firefighters working the fire.

• Highway 6 will re-open at 8:45 a.m. today.

• No evacuations at this time. If there is an evacuation, affected residents will receive a reverse 911 call.

• There is a red flag warning in effect with winds gusting to 35 mph. The temperatures are expected to be 70 to 74 degrees, with relative humidity from 3 to 7%.

• The firefighting efforts will be focused on the north and east sides of the fire.

Original item, 7:26 a.m.: In our report last week about the Lefthand Canyon fire near Boulder, we noted that this seems mighty early for the sort of fire danger we're seeing right now -- and the flames just keep on coming. Right now, the Indian Gulch fire near Golden has consumed 550 acres and remains uncontained -- and with another windy, unseasonably warm day on the horizon, nearby homeowners remain concerned.

The Indian Gulch blaze isn't yet listed on the federal Inciweb site, which tracks wildfires nationwide, but two others in Colorado are near the top -- the aforementioned Lefthand Canyon fire and the Grey Rock fire, "approximately one mile south-southeast of Greyrock Mountain on the Roosevelt National Forest near the Poudre Canyon," according to the site. Both are categorized as "active" even though they are currently 100 percent contained.

Obviously, that's not the case with Indian Gulch -- and while a change of weather friendly to firefighters is forecast for tonight into tomorrow, today is expected to be hot by the standards of the season (70s) and dry. As a result, crews will undoubtedly be busy today making sure no embers threaten homes.

Look below to see two Jefferson County Sheriff's Office releases from yesterday, as well as several videos showing the progress of the conflagration to date.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release, 3:58 p.m. March 20:

Indian Gulch Fire

Jefferson County, Co. -- On March 20, 2011 at about 10:15 a.m. the Indian Gulch fire was reported in the area of Mount Galbraith, between Clear Creek Canyon and Golden Gate Canyon. The status of the fire as of 3:15 p.m.:

• 150 acres burned and 0 containment.

• Road closures: Highway 6 closed on the east at Highway 58 and west at highway 119.

• Golden Police issued a reverse 911 to an unknown number of homes in the Mountain Ridge subdivision as an advisory only to prepare for possible evacuation.

• Engines are staged in the subdivision for possible structure protection.

• There are no roads to access the fire; all fire suppression is being done by hand crews 50-60 Firefighters working the fire.

• A helicopter from Douglas County is dumping water.

• A single engine air tanker was ordered but is unavailable due to mechanical issues.

• Agencies on scene: Golden Fire, Golden Gate Fire, Genesee Fire, Fairmont fire, Arvada Fire, West Metro Fire, and Wheat Ridge Fire.

• The winds are currently swirling and erratic.

• Media is staged at mile marker 271 in Clear Creek Canyon.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office release, 7:38 p.m. March 20:

Indian Gulch Fire status update

The status of the fire as of March 20, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.:

• 550 acres burned and 0 percent containment.

• Golden Police issued two reverse 911 calls during the day to affected residents in the Mountain Ridge subdivision, alerting residents to the possibility of evacuation. A total of 366 residential and registered cell phone numbers were contacted.

• If there is any evacuation during the nighttime hours, affected residents will receive a reverse 911 call.

• Two type 2 wildland fire teams are working the fire until late evening, totaling approximately thirty-five firefighters. One of the teams is from Idaho, having recently completed working the Lefthand Canyon Fire.

• A helicopter from Douglas County made 60 water drops at 275 gallons each.

More from our News archive: "Boulder Fourmile Canyon fire photo gallery: Most beautiful shots of a horrible blaze."


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