ARVADA, Colo. — Residents chased from about 130 homes by a wind-blown wildfire were allowed to return Wednesday, but at least one highway remained closed by fallen power lines and thick smoke.
The blaze that had spread across more than 2,700 acres outside this Denver suburb was about 75 percent contained, Jefferson County sheriff’s spokesman Jim Shires said mid-morning.
No homes burned and there were no immediate reports of injuries. At least one building, described as a pump house for the Denver Water Board, was destroyed, Shires said.
It was the third major wildfire in Colorado in four days, unusual for the winter.
Drought conditions and gusty wind also have contributed to wildfires over the past few weeks in parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and New Mexico.
One busy north-south highway, Colorado 93, remained closed Wednesday because of choking smoke and fallen power lines.
The wildfire, pushed by wind gusting up to 60 mph, was burning through grassland and trees near the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons site. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacki Kelley said she didn’t think any of the Rocky Flats site was burned. The cause of the fire had not been determined.
“These (gusts) will knock you over if you’re not standing with your feet apart,” Kelley said. “The winds have been described to me as swirling. They’re not just one direction.”
The wind was expected to die down during the day but remain relatively strong at 15 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
Gov. Bill Owens banned open fires on all state-owned land below 8,000 feet on Monday after weekend fire in southern Colorado burned five homes and about 4,500 acres in Huerfano and Las Animas counties near the New Mexico state line.
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