DENVER – The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office lifted all evacuation orders for the Miner’s Candle Fire outside of Idaho Springs at 11 a.m. Monday and hopes to have the fire fully contained by Tuesday afternoon, the sheriff said.
The fire was mapped by the Multi-Mission Aircraft at 15 acres in size, Sheriff Rick Albers said in a Monday morning news conference.
The fire is believed to have destroyed two homes and four outbuildings near Miners Candle Road, including the home where the fire is believed to have started before spreading eastward, Albers said. The investigation into damage caused by the fire and the source of the fire will continue Monday.
Albers lifted evacuation orders for the fire at 11 a.m. The fire was still 50% contained as of 10:30 a.m. Monday. Albers said he is hoping crews can have the fire fully contained by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
There are 35 personnel working the fire Monday, including a 20-person hand crew. There were 45 firefighters on scene on Sunday. Albers said no civilians or firefighters were injured because of the fire as of Monday morning.
There are colder conditions in the area Monday, but winds could still gust up to 30-40 miles per hour, Albers said. He advised residents returning home to stay close to their phones and to subscribe to the CodeRED emergency alert program just in case the fire does break containment lines.
“I’m 90% sure it’s not going to get away from us today, but there’s always that 10%,” Albers said.
Jeremy Jones, the assistant fire chief for Clear Creek Fire Authority, who is the on-scene commander for the fire, said the first home is believed to have caught fire between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday.
But the first 911 call did not come in until 6:20 a.m. as a report of a possible campfire from someone who saw the fire’s glow from across the canyon.
By the time crew arrived, the first home was burned to its foundation, Jones said, and the second home was actively on fire, as were nearby outbuildings. Jones said one person from inside that home was evacuated at the time.
Albers said residents will see smoke and possible flames in the area for at least the next 24 hours because of smoldering tree stumps and grasses. The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Albers also thanked the businesses in Idaho Springs that donated to firefighters Sunday.
“Kudos to them,” Albers said. “…When you’re fighting a fire, sandwiches are good anywhere you can get them.”
“It’s important to recognize that this is a year-round threat now – that wildfires can happen in Colorado any time of year,” said Michael Kodas, the author of “Megafire.” “Depending on what we see in the next few weeks, these may not be the last wildfires we see this December.”