JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - A wildfire burning in Jefferson County prompted immediate evacuations for residents in Buffalo Creek Township and within a 3-mile radius of the intersection of South Foxton Road and Platte River Road.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office originally called it the Chair Rock Fire, but the name was changed around 3:15 p.m. when the U.S. Forest Service assumed management of the fire. The current name is the Lime Gulch Fire and it is estimated to be 500 acres in size.
There is no current estimate of containment, but Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink said the cause is assumed to be lightning. The original report of the fire came in around 6 p.m. last night.
"They had some lightning strikes yesterday and they noticed some smoldering, but it is such a remote area that it was tough to get to," Mink said. "They decided today to monitor it but the winds picked up and it took off."
The sheriff said over 700 phones were notified of the evacuation order and deputies were sent door-to-door to inform residents. About 100 total people were evacuated.
"All the evacuations went off without a hitch, all the people are accounted for," Mink said. "The good news is that it is a very sparsely populated area, as far as houses go, so we were able to go door-to-door to make sure the evacuation was complete."
The Sheriff's Office said the safest evacuation routes were along County Road 126 or Foxton Road. Foxton is closed at U.S. Highway 285 but evacuees will still be allowed to leave along that route.
An evacuation center is being established at Evergreen High School and evacuees are advised they can bring large animals to the fairgrounds and small animals to the Foothills Animal Shelter.
The Spring Creek Subdivision is also being told to be ready for a possible evacuation.
"If the winds change, we will elevate that to a level 3," Sheriff Mink said, referring to the classification his office uses for immediate mandatory evacuations.
In Douglas County, the Sheriff's Office is issuing a pre-evacuation order in the area near Night Hawk Hill or to the east of Platte River Road from the river south to West Pine Creek Road.
Chair Rock is a rock formation near Foxton, Cathedral Spires and Reynolds Park. It's about 12 miles from Highway 285 or four miles from the Lower North Fork Fire burn area.
The 24/7 Weather Center reports wind speeds in the fire area are southeast at 13 mph with gusts up to 23 mph. Meteorologist Matt Makens called the humidity in the area "bone dry."
Two U.S. Forest Service reports two hotshot crews and two initial attack crews are on the ground fighting the fire. In addition crews from five local fire departments are on the scene.
In the air, helicopters and Air Force MAFFS planes were seen dropping water or fire retardant.
A type two management team will be coming early Thursday to assume management duties for this fire, Sheriff Mink said.
The Douglas County Regional Dispatch Center experienced a high volume of calls related to smoke from the Lime Gulch Fire. Heavy smoke was reported throughout Douglas County Wednesday evening (South and East of the Lime Gulch Fire in Jefferson County). Douglas County residents were asked to only report any actual fires. The smoke in the area is from the Jefferson County fire.
See the map of the evacuation area below or if you're on mobile: http://ch7ne.ws/19jooAf
View Lime Gulch Fire in a larger map