July 21, 2008

Fire Forces Evacuations Near Deckers

By Kevin Flynn

A fast spreading wildfire broke out along the South Platte River north of Deckers Sunday afternoon, forcing evacuation of several homes and campgrounds.

The Oxyoke Fire, named for the roadside community along the river about five miles downstream from Deckers, had burned more than 100 acres by late Sunday night and up to 20 homes were evacuated.

Jefferson County authorities spread out through the many picnic areas, campsites and recreation spots in the popular Pike National Forest to warn hikers and others of the approaching danger.

In many cases, they found vehicles but not their owners, presumably still out in the rugged hills and canyons.

The blaze was being fought by North Fork Fire Co., with assistance from other companies and the U.S. Forest Service. The cause of the fire wasn't known.

The alarm was sounded around 12:20 p.m. Sunday. The fire quickly grew, at one point going from 50 acres to 90 acres in an hour. It spread northwest on the Jefferson County side of the river that marks the boundary with Douglas County.

Residents who need assistance should call the sheriff's office at 303-271-0211, said spokeswoman Jacki Kelley.

"There's no need for chaos and alarm, but we're trying to be forward-thinking about the possibility that the fire may grow," Kelley said. "There are a number of recreation areas and campgrounds. We are trying to get people out, but we're coming across vehicles that are abandoned, meaning the people are out on the trails hiking or camping."

No injuries were reported.

Originally published by Kevin Flynn, Rocky Mountain News.

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