Watch CBSN Live

Huge Colo. wildfires sparked by preventive burn?

(CBS News) CONIFER, Colo. - One person is dead in Colorado after fast-moving wildfires burned at least five homes. They're threatening hundreds more, reports Lane Lyon, of CBS station KCNC in Denver.

Thousands of people in a rural area near Denver have been forced out of their homes by one spectacular blaze. It erupted Monday in Jefferson County, about 25 miles southwest of Denver. The fire is the largest of about a dozen that burned from the northeast plains to the southern part of the state, and scorched four-and-half square miles in only a few hours.

The fires apparently grew from a prescribed burn conducted last week - designed to prevent wildfires.

"(We're) praying that the fire goes around our house, but it got our neighbor's house that's a couple miles up the road," one resident said.

"(It's the) first time in 36 years I had to get out of here, so ... heavy duty," said another.

Fueled by dry conditions and wind gusts reaching up to 55 miles per hour, the paths of the fires remain unpredictable, and officials will continue to battle the blazes Tuesday.

"If the winds shifts or picks up for some reason, then a lot's possible," says Adam Goldman, of Foothills Fire Rescue

"We've asked for air support," says Jacki Kelley, of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. "We're hoping, crossing our fingers that we get that tomorrow (Tuesday). We asked for it today (Monday) and they simply couldn't fly, because it was too dangerous. A lot of additional resources (are) coming in, both (from) in-state and out-of-state, so lots of boots on the ground to really try and make a dent."

Lingering smoke could affect air quality through Tuesday.

Fire officials say there was zero containment Tuesday morning.

To see Lane Lyon's report, click on the video in the player above.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.