CO firefighters battle windy forecast

Firefighters battling thefire in Colorado have a small window until high winds are predicted

DENVER | March 30, 2012

Firefighters battling the Lower North Fork fire in Colorado say they have a small window to protect their progress against high winds predicted for the weekend.

Containment went from 15 percent to 45 percent, and firefighters said the 4,140-acre fire in the dry foothills southwest of Denver didn't expand Thursday, The Denver Post reported Friday.

"We have a two-day window of weather fairly favorable for us to make hay," incident commander Rich Harvey said Thursday.

Also Thursday, most of the residents living in the 900 homes evacuated were allowed to return home.

Some 6,500 more residences were on notice of possible evacuation if the fire rekindles, officials said.

The fire killed an elderly couple. Twenty-seven homes were damaged or destroyed.

Officials say they believe the blaze started Monday when winds fanned embers of a controlled burn by the state that occurred last week.

The weekend's forecast calls for 20-mph wind gusts, with gusts of 30- to 40-mph at higher elevations. Temperatures will be near record highs.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday suspended prescribed burns by the state. Jefferson and Boulder counties and Denver Mountain Parks also instituted bans on campfires and other outdoor burning Tuesday, the Post said. Other counties implemented similar bans Thursday.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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