Wind-driven wildfires erupt in Colorado during red flag warnings

Widespread wildfires broke out in Colorado, including in the metro area, as strong winds and low humidity raised fire concerns and prompted two consecutive days of red flag warnings.

Hogback fire

On Friday, the Hogback fire sparked in Jefferson County and the wind-driven blaze climbed upslope on the west side of the hogback, near Matthew Winters Park, and topped the ridge racing down the east side of the hogback toward C-470 and south toward West Alameda Avenue.

The fast-moving fire, pushed by 40-mph winds with gusts up to 60 mph, led to a pre-evacuation notice being posted by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for residents in the Morrison area. A concert at the nearby Red Rocks Amphitheater, by electronic music producer Dabin, was canceled because of wildfire concerns. A pre-evacuation notice was also posted, by the Lakewood Police Department, for the Solterra subdivision.

The pre-evacuation notices were lifted on Friday night.

Firefighters from multiple departments, including West Metro Fire Protection District and the Golden Fire Department fought the fire, including the use of specialized brush trucks. Late in the afternoon the fire was estimated to be about 10 acres and growing.

403 fire

On Thursday, the 403 fire started in Park County south of Florissant and overnight the blaze grew to more than 1,205 acres as it raced toward Teller County. The fire forced the evacuation of about 100 homes while other area residents were put on pre-evacuation notice. On Friday, winds in the area were about 30 mph with gusts up to about 52 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Cold weather, with temperatures in the upper 30s, aided firefighters in the efforts.

Local, state and federal resources are being used to fight the 403 fire.

Firefighters have been working to suppress the blaze. Windy conditions were a factor in the fire’s growth and direction, fire officials said. Air support on the fire was ordered on Friday, but extreme wind conditions grounded the operations.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment issued an air quality alert, warning of smoke from the fire, wafting northeastward, and advised residents of Park and Teller counties to stay indoors.

Authorities classified the 403 fire as “human-caused,” saying it started on private land along Park County Road 403, southwest of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. It was burning in both Park and Teller counties Friday morning.

125 fire

Also on Thursday, the 125 fire erupted south of Simla and early in the afternoon the entire Elbert County town, with about 600 residents, was ordered to evacuate. The evacuation order was lifted late-afternoon Thursday.

The fire burned about 1,000 acres and as part of the firefighting effort Elbert County crews used graders to cut fire containment lines and to remove fuel vegetation from the blaze. Late in the day Thursday the Elizabeth Fire Protection District announced that the fire was 96% contained.

Aurora brush fire

Aurora Fire Rescue on Friday afternoon contained a brush fire in an open space near the intersection of Parker and Chamber roads. The fire was reported at 3:15 p.m. by 911 callers. No structures burned, but a footbridge and brush in an open space were torched. There were no injuries.

Firefighters went door-to-door to evacuate fewer than a dozen homes and condominiums in the Pioneer Hills neighborhood, Aurora Fire Rescue said in a tweet. The precautionary measure was soon lifted.

The fire burned about 3 acres and firefighters remained on scene into the night, monitoring the area and dousing potential hot spots to guard against a flareup. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Otero County brush fire

A highway four miles south of Rocky Ford in Otero County closed temporarily Friday afternoon as firefighters battled a blaze whipped by high winds. Firefighters doused the smoky grass fire late in the day.

The Otero County Sheriff’s Office reported the fire around 2:30 p.m., according to a tweet from the undersheriff.

Colorado 71 northbound was closed between Colorado 10 and Otero BB.5, the Colorado Department of Transportation reported. It reopened at around 3:30 p.m.

All units, firefighters and support including sheriff’s office staff, had the fire out and cleared the scene by about 5 p.m., according to an Otero County dispatcher.

Wildfire map

Click markers for details, use buttons to change what wildfires are shown. Map data is automatically updated by government agencies and could lag real-time events. Incident types are numbered 1-5 — a type 1 incident is a large, complex wildfire affecting people and critical infrastructure, a type 5 incident is a small wildfire with few personnel involved. Find more information about incident types at the bottom of this page.

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