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Thousands flee as CO fire explodes

Wind gusts drive fire in the foothills as more than 900 homes evacuated

BY JIM SKILLINGTON | BALTIMORE | March 27, 2012

Hundreds of homes in the Jefferson County foothills near Denver were evacuated Monday night as a wildfire rapidly grew to more than 3,000 acres.

A spokesperson for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department said Monday night more than a dozen homes may have been destroyed. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for more than 900 other homes.

Two area high schools were set up as shelters for evacuees and large animals were being taken to the county fairgrounds in Golden.

The fire was first reported about 2 o'clock Monday afternoon and was contained to about 15 acres until about 5 p.m. Wind gusts ranging as high as 70 mph, quickly spred the fire during the evening.

The fire comes on the heels of an air quality advisory issued earlier in the day, warning area residents of the blowing dust.

Smoke from the Lower North Fork Fire could be seen in downtown Denver according to a report in the Denver Post.

Firefighters had extinguished several other foothills area fires over the weekend and other smaller wildfires were reported in other Colorado counties Monday afternoon.


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