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Crews Contain Colorado Wildfire

November 02, 2001|From Associated Press

BERTHOUD, Colo. — Calmer winds on Thursday helped crews gain the upper hand against a wildfire that consumed 1,180 acres of timber and grass and had threatened dozens of houses northwest of Denver.

A helicopter was making water drops on smoldering debris and crews could be seen roaming the area dousing hot spots with water. Firefighter Aaron Findling said there was no more running fire.

Unusually dry and warm weather contributed to the fire, which spread quickly Wednesday evening because of winds gusting up to 50 mph. But it died down quickly as the wind lessened Thursday, and the blaze appeared to have stopped along a ridge and an irrigation ditch.

About 120 firefighters were still on the ground near Carter Lake, 10 miles west of Berthoud and 40 miles from Denver, Larimer County spokeswoman Eloise Campanella said.

No injuries were reported. Residents said at least one house burned, but incident commander Don Griffith said he could not confirm that any structures were lost.

Up to 50 houses had been threatened and 15 to 20 were evacuated, said Erik Nilsson of Larimer County Emergency Management.

At least eight people checked into an American Red Cross shelter at Berthoud High School on Wednesday night. Shelters also were set up for pets and livestock.

The cause of the fire had not been determined. It was first reported about 1 p.m. as a tree on fire, and at one point, it doubled in size to 300 to 400 acres in only 45 minutes, Griffith said.

Sarah Mund, 14, said her father had stayed behind to protect their family home but she left with her dogs, Kemosabe and Yukon, Wednesday afternoon as the fire closed in.

"When it jumped over the ridge, we came out," she said.

A second fire burned 800 to 1,000 acres of grassland west of Wellington in Larimer County on Wednesday. No structures were threatened.

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