March 29, 2012 in Nation/World

Colorado governor halts prescribed burns after wildfire

Dan Elliott Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

A resident retrieves a badly burned U.S. flag Wednesday after fire swept across his property in Conifer, Colo.
(Full-size photo)

CONIFER, Colo. – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday suspended the use of state prescribed burns like the one that may have caused a deadly wildfire that destroyed dozens of homes near Denver.

The Colorado State Forest Service says the 6-square-mile fire started after a controlled burn last week that was meant to reduce vegetation. Instead, the blaze went out of control Monday when high winds blew embers across a containment line and into unburned forest.

Hickenlooper said the ban on such fires on state lands, including state parks, would be in effect until a review of the wildfire is complete.

Also Wednesday, Colorado’s deputy state forester apologized for the fire. The Colorado State Forest Service announced that an ember apparently jumped a containment line Monday and started the blaze.

“This is heartbreaking, and we are sorry,” Duda said in a statement.

Meanwhile, some 400 firefighters from several states were focusing on building containment lines around the wildfire, which broke out Monday. Until now, the fire’s erratic pattern has forced firefighters to focus on protecting homes, not stopping the burn.

Air tankers dropped retardant and two National Guard helicopters dropped water to assist firefighters on the ground. Smoke from the fire created haze around Denver, obscuring views of the Rocky Mountains.

As crews dug lines around the fire’s perimeter, a search team was using dogs to look for a woman missing in the fire zone. Her home was among 27 destroyed or damaged in the blaze.

The bodies of Sam Lamar Lucas, 77, and Linda M. Lucas, 76, were found earlier this week at their destroyed home. Their cause of death was pending.

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