403 fire still burning on 1,518 acres in Park, Teller counties

The 403 fire smoldering in forests and meadows in Park and Teller counties has burned 1,518 acres and federal officials on Tuesday pushed back their estimated date for putting it out for lack of sufficient firefighters.

The fire likely won’t be fully contained until Friday “due to limited crew availability,” according to the latest U.S. Forest Service bulletin on the status of that fire, which broke out on Thursday on private property southwest of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.

Light snow overnight helped ground crews snuff hot spots Tuesday morning and the fire was listed as 60% contained. A National Weather Service red flag fire risk warning was still in effect Tuesday due to dry grass and high winds, gusting at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.

“Smoke and flames have been minimal today,” Forest Service spokeswoman Vidalia Vigil told the Denver Post.

“The fire has been moving around on the unburned areas, but it has not expanded much beyond the perimeter,” Vigil said, acknowledging the limited numbers of firefighters.

“We do have hot shot crews up there,” she said. “There’s just a demand, with new fires starting throughout the nation — a demand for new firefighters.”

The status report said 63 firefighters were deployed to this fire. It was unclear whether federal officials would be able to send up helicopters to drop buckets of water Tuesday due to wind.

Federal fire investigators still were working to determine what ignited this fire, which forced evacuations of two subdivisions last week. The residents since have been allowed to return to their homes.

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