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Publish Date: 7/18/2005

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Firefighters work to contain the Lykins Gulch Fire south of Lyons on Sunday. Crews had trouble accessing the fire, which had engulfed 30 acres and was 20 percent contained as of Sunday night. Times-Call/Richard M. Hackett

Lightning strikes twice in Lyons
Bolts start two fires in less than 24 hours


LEFT HAND CANYON — For the second time in less than 24 hours, lightning sparked a wildfire on steep terrain in the Heil Valley Ranch open space property Sunday afternoon.

Emergency crews struggled to contain the 30-acre Lykins Gulch Fire, located on a ridge northwest of North Foothills Highway and Left Hand Canyon Drive, after lightning ignited the blaze around 2:30 p.m., Boulder County Sheriff’s Lt. Phil West said.

The fire, which later spread to private property east of the open space park, was about 20 percent contained late Sunday, West said.

“It’s a little awkward to access it,” West said Sunday night. “The terrain is pretty rough. We’re fortunate there’s no wind pushing it.”

About 50 firefighters battled the blaze, setting up command centers on Geer Canyon Road and Lykins Gulch Road and hiking to the burn area with “axes, spades and whatever water you can carry on your back,” West said.

The fire burned mainly on the ground but torched a few trees, he said.

Police issued reverse-911 calls to nearby residents after the fire sent a huge plume of smoke into the air, and closed the open space park for the day. No structures were threatened by the fire and no emergency workers were injured, West said.

A plane circled the area early in the evening, dumping several bright red loads of fire retardant on the burn area.

A larger crew will battle the fire today, West said.

“There’s going to be a lot of smoke for the next couple of days,” West warned residents.

The Lykins Gulch Fire ignited about two miles south from a 10-acre wildfire that began Saturday evening.

Firefighters battling the blaze to the north, dubbed the Heil Ranch Fire, had their fire 95 percent contained as of 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Lyons Fire Department spokeswoman Laura McConnell said.

They expected to fully contain the 10-acre blaze, located on a rocky ridge about two miles south of Lyons, early today, she said.

“They want to get in there tomorrow and make sure they covered everything,” McConnell said.

No one was injured fighting the Heil Ranch Fire, which was started by lightning around 5:50 p.m. Saturday, McConnell said. The fire did not threaten any structures.

Brad Turner can be reached at 720-494-5420, or by e-mail at bturner@times-call.com.

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