Jefferson County, Colorado, Wildfire

March 27, 2012 by staff 

Jefferson County, Colorado, Wildfire, State forest officials had conducted a prescribed burn last week in the same area where a wind-driven wildfire has destroyed at least 15 homes and left one person dead, authorities said Tuesday.

Ryan Lockwood, a spokesman for the Colorado State Forest Service, said his agency conducted the prescribed burn on Thursday on land belonging to the Denver Water Board as part of an ongoing attempt to reduce fire danger. Such burns are usually done to thin out vegetation.

“This has been going on for the past year,” said Lockwood. Stacy Chesney, a spokeswoman for Denver Water, said decisions about prescribed burns are left to the state forest service, which has a contract for protecting land that feeds into reservoirs.

Chesney said wildfires can damage water sheds, so the agency was “trying to be proactive.”

Jefferson County sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacki Kelley had said earlier that the wildfire, which spread to nearly 5 square miles within a matter of hours on Monday, may have been a controlled burn from last week that sprang back to life because of strong wind gusts.

The fire is burning several miles and mountain ridges west of Denver’s tightly populated southwestern suburbs, which are not under threat. The area of pines and grassland is mountainous and sparsely populated, dotted with hamlets and the occasional expensive home. It is about 25 miles southwest of Denver at an altitude that ranges from 7,000 to 8,200 feet.

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