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Lime Gulch Fire burns 500 acres, evacuations ordered

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Evacuation notices have been sent out for about 100 residents in southwestern Jefferson County after a wildfire started there Wednesday afternoon.

The Lime Gulch Fire (previously called the Chair Rock Fire) is south of Conifer and east of Bailey and is estimated to be about 500 acres in size according to U.S. Forest Service officials.  The name of the fire was changed when the U.S. Forest Service assumed management of the fire.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said it issued Level 3 evacuations (meaning residents should leave now) for a 3-mile radius from the intersection of Foxton and Platte River roads. “Leave immediately,” deputies tweeted.

Level 3 evacuations were also ordered for Buffalo Creek Township and Buffalo Park Township.

Additionally in Douglas County, Night Hawk Hill and Platte River South have been placed on a pre-evacuation notice, said the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

The subdivision of Spring Creek has also been placed on a “Be Ready” Level 1 evacuation status.

An evacuation center has been set up at Evergreen High School (29300 Buffalo Park Road). It was expected to be open all night.

Deputies said large animals can be taken to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds and small animals can be taken to the Foothills Animal Shelter.

Deputies said 401 phones have been contacted in the evacuation radius with 69 contacted in the Spring Creek area.

Several fire departments from Jefferson County, metro Denver and the U.S. Forest Service were on scene. The fire is on Forest Service land. Video from SkyFOX showed a US Air Force C-130 heavy tanker making slurry drops over the fire and at least one helicopter making water drops.

LINK: Official information from Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office says the fire was first reported around 6 p.m. Tuesday. Around 1 p.m. Wednesday, deputies received reports of black smoke as the fire grew in size.

The evacuation area includes some areas that were burned in the Lower North Fork fire last year.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office spokesman Mark Techmeyer said no immediate cause of the fire has been determined although lightning is suspected.

It is burning mostly in rugged terrain in an area popular with hikers and no homes were immediately threatened, he said.

The forecast for the area was for highs in the low 80s with low humidity and light winds.  Hot, dry weather is expected during the next several days.