7:16pm

Tue March 22, 2011
Colorado Wildfires

Fire Crews Gaining Ground on Golden Wildfire

A thick blanket of smoke and ash swirled around downtown Golden throughout Tuesday afternoon and into the evening as winds fueled the 1,200 acre Indian Gulch Fire west of town. 

Firefighters were also struggling against stiff winds up in Golden Gate Canyon, as they worked toward 20% containment of the blaze.  No homes or structures had burned but hillsides were a freshly charred black. 

Safety officer Cris Newton with the Jefferson County Incident Management team surveyed the scene along a dirt road just below where fire crews had managed to save a home.

"Even though most of the fire appears like it’s hidden or its out, it could get dangerous again up here depending on what happens with these winds and blowing sparks around," Newton said.

It was an odd sight with flames and occasionally big plumes of smoke casting above the trees and the forest that still had some old snow banks strewn about. 

Wildfires this big are not unheard of in eastern Colorado even in March, but they seem to be getting more and more common and more costly to fight.  This one’s bill is now well over $600,000. 

Jacki Kelley, spokesperson for the Jefferson County sheriff’s department, called the recent spate of fires on the Colorado Front Range worrisome.

"This big and this ferocious concerns us, because things are so dry," she said.

The winds are expected to die down Wednesday, but moisture isn’t in the forecast until at least the weekend.