Lower North Fork Fire 100% Contained

All Evacuees Allowed To Go Home

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says the Lower North Fork fire was 100 percent contained on Monday, a week after the fire broke out.

A spring snow storm brought cold temperatures and snow to the site of the Lower North Fork Fire, which started March 26 in unusually warm weather and strong winds.

Monday morning, some 50 remaining evacuees were finally allowed to go home.

All roads in the burn area, with the exception of Kuehster Road, have reopened to the public. Kuehster Road will remain open only to residents until further notice, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said

Conifer High School, which operated as base for firefighters, will remain closed Tuesday. West Jefferson Middle School, used as an evacuation shelter, will be open for students.

At its peak, the blaze forced mandatory evacuations of 900 homes and left even more families on standby for evacuation. More than two dozen homes were damaged or destroyed.

Three people were killed in the fire. Their remains were found last week amid the debris left behind by the fire. The bodies of Sam Lamar Lucas, 77, and Linda M. Lucas, 76, were found at their destroyed home last week. Saturday search crews found the remains of Ann Appel, who had been reported missing, in the debris of her burned home.

Colorado has suspended controlled burns that are designed to reduce wildfire risk after the Colorado State Forest Service acknowledged that a March 22 prescribed burn may have rekindled and triggered the North Fork Fire. High wind gusts blew embers across a containment line, the forest service said.

Intermountain Rural Electric Association says power has been restored to all but about 56 of the 267 customers who lost it during the fire. The utility says it could take weeks to rebuild a power line that was destroyed by the fire.

Two or three miles of electrical lines burned.

911 Calls From Couple Killed In Fire Released

7NEWS obtained the 911 calls from the Lucas’ when the fire started. The calls underscore how emergency crews had no idea just how out of control the fire was getting.

According to the tapes, Sam Lucas told dispatchers, “We live up in the foothills and we just got home, and looks like there’s a fire right at the foot of Cathedral Spires.”

The dispatcher replied “that’s a controlled burn. The Forest Service is out there on scene with that.”

Sam Lucas asked, “We got 79 mile an hour winds up here and they got a controlled burn?”

The dispatcher simply replied, “Yes.”

“Oh wonder,” Lucas replied. "Thank you."

Wyo. Forest Supervisor To Lead Fire Review Team

Wyoming's Bighorn National Forest supervisor William Bass will lead a four-person review team that will examine the prescribed burn that apparently sparked a deadly wildfire southwest of Denver.

Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed Bass Monday following calls for an independent review by Hickenlooper and Colorado State University, which oversees the Colorado State Forest Service that conducted the burn.

Bass' team will examine the planning of the burn, procedures in place and how it was carried out. The review is expected to take about 30 days.

Bass' review is separate from a criminal investigation into three deaths apparently caused by the fire and a possible federal review into response coordination, fire suppression efforts and communication among responders and residents.

Bass is a 37-year forest service veteran with extensive fire related experience.

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