CONIFER, Colo. --
A wildfire broke out among rural Jefferson County homes in Conifer Tuesday, forcing hundreds of evacuations.
The blaze, initially estimated at two acres just before noon, was reported near the 12000-block of Cochise Circle in the Conifer Meadows subdivision. The first report of the fire came in at 11:40 a.m. and Intermountain Rural Electric immediately cut electrical power to the neighborhood.
Fire units arriving at the scene said some homes were threatened and later images of the fire showed it burned close to several homes in the subdivision. The fire was 50 percent contained by 3:25 p.m. and was estimated at 10 to 12 acres in size.
Multiple fire agencies were called in to aid Elk Creek firefighters and additional firefighters are expected to arrive Tuesday evening, doubling the total number of firefighters to around 60. They were fighting the fire by hand and with tanker trucks, protecting homes in the area.
Automated phone calls went out to at least 340 homeowners in the subdivision at 1:40 p.m, alerting them to evacuate. The evacuation area was in a radius of 1 1/3 miles around the fire.
An evacuation shelter was set up in the nearby Conifer High School gymnasium and about a dozen people had showed up by 4 p.m. In addition to providing for sheltering needs, the American Red Cross also sent a mobile canteen to provide drinks and snacks for first responders and evacuated residents.
Jefferson County school students who live in the Conifer Meadows subdivision were kept at school to be picked up by their parents because Foxton Road was closed to traffic, including school buses.
Residents of Conifer Meadows who have livestock at home were allowed through the roadblock on Foxton Road to retrieve their animals.
The Jefferson County Fairgrounds was made available for large animal evacuations, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Blog.
The sheriff's office said that residents were allowed to return to their homes, beginning at 6 p.m., but they were required to show valid identification.
"Many homes in the area are currently without power, and power may not be restored for some time. If you are a resident and are unable to stay in your home without power, and you have no alternative places to stay, you may call the Sheriff's Office non-emergency number to request assistance: 303-277-0211," the sheriff's office Blog stated Tuesday evening.
Evergreen Fire could not respond to the Conifer fire initially because it was already fighting a separate wildfire that threatened at least three homes.
The fire was reported in the 100 block Nuthatch Road in Clear Creek County at about 11:20 a.m. and was reported to be under control around 2:30 p.m.
"As much as nerve wracking as it is to think about your house, obviously it's the lives of your loved ones that really matters," said Vickie Lytle, a homeowner.
Fire crews will remain on the scene overnight according to Rocco Snart, Fire Management Officer with the Jefferson County Sheriff.
"It's stressful. You know, we live up here, so we deal with it every year. We worry about fire," said homeowner Regina Grasberger.
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