DENVER – Around 70 firefighters continued to work through steep and rough terrain to battle the Platte River Fire in southwestern Jefferson County Friday, which was 37 acres at last update and 0% contained.
The fire started on private land just before 3 p.m. Thursday in Ramona Gulch, about 2 miles east of Foxton and moved onto U.S. Forest Service land. Jefferson County spokesperson Jennifer Fulton said Thursday the fire is believed to have been caused by a tree that blew over into power lines.
An area of 2 square miles near S. Foxton Road and W. Platte River Road was evacuated, which included 25 homes occupied by 14 families. But the evacuation center at Conifer High School was shut down Friday because none of the evacuees arrived there.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said at 5:30 p.m. Friday the evacuations will remain in effect until Sunday evening at the earliest and possibly longer. The sheriff's office said the fire remains very active, that Platte River Road remains closed, and that workers are expected to repair downed power lines on Sunday.
Update #PlatteRiverFire: evacuations will remain in effect until Sunday evening at the earliest, although that may be extended. Fire remains at 30+ acres with a very active scene and Platte River Rd remains closed. Workers are expected to do repairs re: downed power on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/xEtg76naDx— Jeffco Sheriff (@jeffcosheriffco) June 11, 2021
In addition to the 70 firefighters, a Type 2 helicopter was working the fire Friday, as well as a Type 1 helicopter, airtankers and handcrews.
West Metro Fire sent its dive team to the fire Friday to help ferry firefighters across the South Platte River for easier access to the terrain where the fire is burning.
We have a crew of firefighters helping out on the #PlatteRiverFire, but their job there is a bit unusual. West Metro's dive team is responsible for getting firefighters closer to the line, by ferrying people and equipment across the Platte River. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/BPIuneKAuq— WestMetroFire (@WestMetroFire) June 11, 2021
Cass Cairns, a spokesperson for the fire, said firefighting conditions were “extremely tough” and that crews were happy to have the help from West Metro. The fire had spotted some in the area, and Cairns warned that stronger winds could potentially allow the fire “to take off.”
“You can see there’s little pockets,” Cairns said. “So, what can happen here, especially this time of day … you can have winds shift, push it another different way, and push it further into the fuels.”
Cairns said that having the river right there to pump water up to the trucks above was “a great advantage” to fighting the Platte River Fire.
Fire officials said a fixed-wing aircraft entered the airspace above the fire around 8 p.m. Thursday.
“All aircraft should see and avoid wildland fire smoke. This also goes for drones. When the airspace over a wildland fire is compromised by either aircraft or drone firefighting by air must be shut down for safety reasons,” the Forest Service wrote in a blog post.
No structures have so far been lost in the wildfire. It is one of two that started on Thursday afternoon amid windy, dry, and hot conditions. The other fire, the Straight Creek Fire, is burning in between Silverthorne and the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels and was estimated at 15 acres on Friday afternoon.