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Thousands of evacuees in Colorado allowed to return home

BOULDER, Colo. — Thousands of people began returning home Friday, four days after a fire erupted in the rugged foothills west of Boulder and prompted mass evacuations. About 2,000 were cleared to return, but another 1,000 or so were still kept away because of how close their homes are to the 10-square-mile fire that's still burning.

Crews worked Friday to build more containment lines around the fire while contending with winds gusting up to 30 mph. Jim Thomas, the leader of the incident response team, said the winds were expected to die down today, making it easier for crews to attack the flames.

"We're hoping, within the next three to five days, that we'll be close to 100 percent containment," Thomas said.

People allowed back to their homes Friday didn't have power or phone service and were greeted by the smell of rotting food in refrigerators. Authorities warned residents to keep an eye on the changing weather and be ready to evacuate again.

Susan DiPrima returned to her two-story log house with a spring in her step.

"It's here! It's still here!" the retiree said as she entered her house. Less than half a mile from her home below Sugarloaf Mountain, the ground was scorched and trees were blackened and ashy.

About 950 firefighters from 20 states were battling the blaze dubbed the Fourmile Canyon fire, which has cost $4 million to fight so far. No one was seriously hurt by the fire.

Thousands of evacuees in Colorado allowed to return home 09/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 10, 2010 9:27pm]
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