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Colorado Wildfire Kills One, Forces Hundreds to Evacuate

Hemera Technologies/ThinkstockUPDATE: A second fatality was reported early Tuesday afternoon.

(DENVER) -- One person was killed and hundreds more evacuated from their homes in Colorado on Monday as a fast-moving wildfire burned through more than four-and-a-half square miles, authorities said.

The death was confirmed overnight by the sheriff's office in Jefferson County, a largely rural area 25 miles southwest of Denver where the wildfire was first reported midday Monday.

Authorities said the fire, which officials suspect flared up from a controlled burn in the area last week, spread quickly because of dry and windy conditions in the area.

More than 900 homes were evacuated Monday, and authorities overnight told homeowners in surrounding neighborhoods to be ready to leave immediately should the direction of the flame shift.

Authorities said the fire was spread by winds gusting as high as 70 miles per hour and that made it grow more than 100 times in size in just a matter of hours.

Jefferson County officials were asking for help from fire departments as far away as Arizona to assist the nearly 100 firefighters on the ground now.  Authorities also hoped to have air tankers available to drop fire retardant on the flames Tuesday.

“We’ve asked for air support and we’re hoping, crossing our fingers, that we get that tomorrow,” Jefferson County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacki Kelly said Monday.  “We asked for it today and they simply couldn’t fly because it’s too dangerous.”

Evacuees were moved to temporary shelters in two high schools and the Red Cross was activating its resources to help as well.

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