4:14pm

Thu March 24, 2011
Breaking: Wildfires

Firefighers Making Progress on Douglas County Fire, Evacuations Lifted

A 1,600 acre wildfire  near Franktown is now 50% contained and many of those evacuated from their homes  are being allowed to return.

The Burning Tree fire started around 1 o'clock this afternoon. Several helicopters and two single engine air tankers have battled the fire from the air. Fire crews from six different agencies and from neighboring counties are attacking the fire on the ground. The winds are calming and humidity levels are going up. Updated 6:45 p.m.

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A wildfire burning in Douglas County has forced the evacuation of about 9,500 homes within a 4-mile radius of the fire near Franktown. The blaze started this afternoon in a wooded area and is being driven by winds of 30 mph and stronger. No structures have been burned. A cold front is moving through the area dropping some moisture over the burn area. Firefighters from six agencies are on the ground. A helicopter has been dropping water for most of the afternoon. Updated at 5:04 p.m.

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Authorities say a wildfire burning in an outlying Denver suburb has forced the evacuation of about 8,500 houses. Evacuations have been ordered for homes within a 4-mile radius of the fire near Franktown, which is about 35 miles southeast of Denver.

The fire started on 4 acres earlier this afternoon in a wooded area and is being driven by winds of 30 mph and stronger.

"Yeah it's very windy here, so the fire just switched directions on us.  So right now it's just a matter of trying to get a handle on it," says Douglas County Sheriff spokeswoman Deputy Michele Rademacher.

The fire is about 100 acres in size. Smoke from the blaze is clearly visible from south Denver suburbs and a helicopter is dropping water. Several ground crews are on scene too. A Red Cross evacuation point has been set up at the Douglas County fairgrounds.

Fire crews are also still trying to contain a roughly 2-square-mile wildfire in the foothills west of Golden. Updated 4:15 p.m.

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