Canyon Creek evacuees return home |

Canyon Creek evacuees return home

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
An Alpine Hotshot mops up hot spots from the New Castle Fire above Canyon Creek Road Thursday afternoon. (Kara K. Pearson/Post Independent)

NEW CASTLE, Colo. ” Fire officials Thursday allowed 60 homeowners to return home as they made more progress controlling an 1,800-acre wildfire in the steep mountains of western Colorado. Thirty other homes remained under the evacuation order.

“It went very well today,” said David Boyd of the Bureau of Land Management.

The homeowners allowed to return live in Canyon Creek Estates, just west of Glenwood Springs. The other homes were below them in the Canyon Creek drainage where the fire continues to burn.

However, the fire was only 50 percent contained as of 4:30 p.m. and the Garfield County sheriff’s office said residents should be aware of possible setbacks with the fire.

“The possibility always exists that another evacuation order may be required until the fire is officially considered extinguished,” community relations deputy Tanny McGinnis wrote in an e-mail.

Even though conditions improved, firefighters remained cautious because of the steep terrain and unpredictable winds. Boyd said afternoon winds usually come from the west, but once they funnel into South Canyon along the Colorado River, they can shift directions with little notice.

Residents of 90 homes in the Canyon Creek Estates subdivision were evacuated Monday and Tuesday. The same homes had been threatened by the Storm King Fire, which claimed the lives of 14 firefighters in 1994, though no homes were lost. Storm King burned the east side of Canyon Creek, and this week’s fire is on the west.

Federal agencies and many counties in western Colorado have imposed fire bans because of high to extreme wildfire risk. The forecast called for the elevated threat to continue at least through Monday.

West of the New Castle fire, a second blaze had charred more than 1,000 remote and rugged acres but was nearly contained. All but 30 of the 120 firefighters were being sent home.

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