Mon June 3, 2013

Bluebell Fire Now Fully Contained

The Bluebell Fire continues to burn near Evergreen, Colo. The fire was reported Tuesday and spread due to conditions and dry fuel presence.

Update 8:16 p.m. - via the Jefferson Sheriff on Twitter:

Update 4:13 p.m. - The remaining evacuations for the Bluebell fire will be lifted at 8 p.m. Tuesday. That announcement followed a day of favorable conditions for firefighters, including cooler temperatures. 140 firefighters worked to build a 100 foot line surrounding the fire. The current estimate of the fire now stands at 10 acres, revised down from the earlier 15 acres.

The cause of the fire has been determined to be a tree that fell against two power lines. As the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office writes:

Today the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, along with Evergreen Fire, conducted a cause and origin investigation. The investigative team has determined that a 48 foot tree came into contact with two to three power lines. The tree acted as a ground wire. This caused a fire to burn at the base of the tree. The ending result was a two foot hole that was burned into the ground. The burned area at the base of the tree ignited the ground fire which became the Blue Bell Fire. The team's official report will be available for release in a few weeks.

Update 10:38 a.m. 06/04/2013 - The Jefferson County Sheriffs have updated their Google map to include closures, approximate fire boundaries, traffic points, and shelters. Screencap is below.

Credit Jeffco Sheriff / maps.google.com

Update 8:37 a.m. 06/04/2013 - The Jefferson County Sheriff's office says that 100 personnel are working the fire. Air resources include a type II heli dropping water. Weather conditions are expected to be favorable today with a high around 71° and light winds in the afternoon. Thunderstorms are also in the forecast. The fire forecast for Tuesday is 'Moderate' in Evergreen.

As stated in the morning briefing, 140 people are still out of their homes. From the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office:

The mandatory evacuation area from last night has not changed. Roads north of Hemlock Lane off of Brook Forest Drive remain closed to all public. A number of other roads in the area will be limited to 'residents only.' The Jefferson County Sheriff's office will be in the area to facilitate the ongoing road restrictions and closures. The public is asked to avoid the area in order to allow firefighters safe and efficient access to the area.

Update: 8:08 a.m. 06/04/2013 - At a press briefing Tuesday morning Jefferson County Sheriff spokeswoman Jacki Kelley said that the Bluebell Fire is now 15 acres, that is down from earlier estimates of 25-35 acres.

140 people are still out of their homes, officials feel that those homes are not safe to return to yet. Firefighters worked throughout the night to establish a perimeter, however, not containment has been established yet. Goals today include expanding the line around the fire in hopes of getting the remaining evacuees back into their homes and investigating the cause of the fire.

Our original post continues:

The Bluebell Fire burning around 30 miles southwest of Denver is laying down for the night, but remains zero percent contained.

Jefferson County Sheriff officials say around 100 homes in Evergreen remain threatened. However, many evacuees are being allowed back home.

Residents within 4 miles of Bluebell Circle were told to leave immediately Monday afternoon after wind gusts carried sparks from the blaze a mile and a half away from where the fire burned an estimated 23 to 35 acres.

Jacki Kelley with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office says the fire took off quickly with very high flames crowing over the tops of trees. “It was in a heavily wooded area in difficult terrain,” said Kelley. “The winds, the fuel, the fact that it was very close to homes, a lot of homes, if it really took off.”

The Jefferson County Sherriff’s offices says around 9,900 emergency calls were sent, but the exact number of evacuees remains unknown because some homes receive calls to multiple numbers. The blaze hugged the boarder of Jefferson County and Clear Creek County where officials there say some homes lost power, forcing officials to go door to door evacuating homes.

Officials say it appears there will be no need for federal firefighting assistance on the ground and local firefighters will be able to mop up the blaze. Federal resources including air support will remain on standby in case the blaze flares up again.

A water dropping helicopter and Single Engine Air Tanker or SEAT plane was dispatched to the blaze. Kelley says the air resources were invaluable during firefighter's initial attack. “It can be everything. We know from working these fires that it’s firefighters that put out fires, it’s not air support,” said Kelley. “It’s the guys on the ground that do the hard work that get the fire out. But they are able to put retardant in front of the fire, slows it, stops it to some degree. Water right on the fire can make a big impact.”

Some evacuations remained in place Monday night. Homes located north of Hemlock Lane, off Brook Forest Drive in Evergreen were unable to return home. All other evacuation notices have been lifted. Earlier, a large area was evacuated with areas north to Buffalo Park Road, south to Hwy 285, east to Hwy 73 and west just over the Jefferson County line all under a type 3 evacuation notice.

For the latest from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office on the Bluebell fire, click here. KUNC's wildfire coverage is available at wildfire.kunc.org.