EAGLE COUNTY — Residents in the Alkali Creek Neighborhood north of Wolcott were allowed back to their homes this afternoon after they were evacuated for the Bocco Fire .
Containment for the fire had reached 50 percent as of Monday at 7 p.m. The fire had burned about 415 acres, but was expected to creep back toward existing containment lines Monday, said Jeremy Spetter, incident commander with the Upper Colorado River Fire Management Unit.
After 1 p.m., residents were allowed back to their homes, said Kate Jerman, public information officer for the Bocco Fire. She said she can't guarantee that the fire will stay contained because of weather and other aspects out of firefighters' control, but think they have a good perimeter around the fire.
"Crews are ... working inward from the perimeter and they are working on putting those smoldering logs out and really securing that perimeter line," she said. "We have no new growths since last night so things are looking good.”
Power was restored to the area, Spetter said.
The fire, just north of Bocco Mountain, started burning Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, authorities in Eagle County asked for the public’s help identifying three men who were in the area at the time the fire started. The men are white, with long hair and were reportedly driving a red and white truck. A white sedan was also seen driving away from the area around that same time.
More than 140 emergency personnel were working to contain the blaze, Spetter said.
All operations were suspended Sunday after a drone was spotted in the area. Unauthorized drone flights can pose serious risks to firefighters and the public, Spetter said. Fire managers said they want to remind the public to not use drones where emergency personnel are working.
The smoke in the area is expected to diminish Monday.
The Bocco Fire is not fully contained and residents in the area should be prepared to leave at any time, Spetter said.
Highway 131 is open, but may close if needed for fire suppression efforts and public safety. Milk Creek Road and Horse Mountain Road were open as of 4:30 p.m., but Jerman asked that drivers use caution because there are active fire operations underway in the area and emergency vehicles are using those roads.
“There still is an evacuation alert in place so we’re asking residents to just be ready and alert and tuned in to their sheriff’s office — the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office,” she said.
Jessie Porter, public information officer with Eagle County Sheriff's Office, said her office received several calls early Monday from residents who were eager to return home, but understanding of the evacuation. She said five residents were evacuated.