UPDATE at 5:00 p.m. MT, 3-27-2012
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has provided additional information about the Lower North Fork Fire:
- 23 homes have been damaged by the fire.
- 4,500 acres have burned
- Two air tankers are working the fire: a single engine air tanker and a large P2V. Two military helicopters are also assigned.
- Increased fire activity today convinced the incident management team to issue a pre-evacuation notice to an additional 6,500 homes north and east of the fire.
- 200 firefighters are on scene.
- Containment is at 0%. Due to the fire behavior, firefighters had to back off from their aggressive strategy this morning, to more of a defensive strategy emphasizing structure protection.
- The Type 1 Incident Management Team has arrived. There is no word yet on when they will assume command. Our best guess at Wildfire Today is sometime on Wednesday.
UPDATE at 3:25 p.m. MT, 3-27-2012:
The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office has identifed the two fatalities from the Lower North Fork Fire as a husband and wife, Samuel Lucas, 77, and Linda Lucas, 76.
UPDATE AT 2:24 p.m., March 27, 2012
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department has updated the map of the Lower North Fork fire. The blue line is the evacuation Area as of 3/27/2012 at 2:00 p.m. This evacuation zone is the original area and does not include the pre-evacuation notice to 6,500 homes located in regions north of the existing evacuation area. The additional pre-evacuation notice was sent out because “current weather conditions have caused the fire to act in an erratic manner which may threaten those 6500 homes”.
UPDATE at 12:33 p.m. MT, March 27, 2012
As the temperature rises and the humidity decreases, activity on the fire is picking up. At least two air tankers are actively dropping retardant on the fire, a Single Engine Air Tanker, and Tanker 44, the P2V which is the tanker than ran off the end of the runway at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport in 2010 after its brakes failed. The aircraft was repaired at the airport and has been stationed there for the last week or so. Two National Guard helicopters are enroute from Buckley Air Force Base to start dropping water.
UPDATE on the Lower North Fork fire, at 11:15 a.m. MT, March 27, 2012: From the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office:
A second fatality has been discovered within the fire zone near the location of the first. Both fatalities are being investigated by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The fire has grown to 4,500 acres. Sixteen structures have burned thus far; that number is subject to change. The Type 1 Incident Management Team is expected to arrive this evening to assist in the management of the incident.
Occasionally 9news has live streaming video of the fire.
Original post at 9:00 a.m. March 27, 2012
There has been one fatality and approximately 15 to 25 structures have burned in a wildfire that is southwest of Denver, and seven miles southeast of Conifer, Colorado. According to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office, the confirmed fatality on the Lower North Fork Fire is not an emergency response member but is likely a resident or visitor to the area. The fire was pushed by very strong winds on Monday — so strong that air tankers were not able to work the fire, which has burned 3,050 acres. At a weather station near Chatfield Lake between noon and 8 p.m. on Monday, the wind was measured at 25 to 38 mph, with gusts of 40 to 52. The Denver Post quotes Jacki Kelley, a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, as saying the fire originated from a controlled burn conducted by the Colorado Forest Service on March 19.
The map above shows the approximate perimeter of the Lower North Fork Fire as of 11:00 p.m. March 26. The fire is 0% contained. Hot Shot crews are on the way from Utah and Arizona
and South Dakota; upon arrival they will be immediately deployed. A Type 2IA crew from South Dakota, Lower Brule Crew #2, is also responding. Due to the winds on Monday, firefighters could not take direct suppression action on the fire and only engaged in point protection. The fire was creating spot fires one-half to one mile ahead of the fire. Today they will actively construct fireline on the perimeter, taking advantage of the more favorable weather conditions. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered.
Below is a time-lapse video showing the smoke from the Lower North Fork Fire from 6:10 p.m. to 6:48 p.m. on March 26, 2012. It was taken from Gibraltar Place in Littleton, CO, near Chatfield Reservoir.