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Colorado fire evacuees allowed home briefly

By Antoinette Campbell, CNN
A helicopter makes water drops on hotspots of a wildfire in Loveland, Colorado, on Monday.
A helicopter makes water drops on hotspots of a wildfire in Loveland, Colorado, on Monday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The fire is now 35 percent contained, a fire official says
  • NEW: Authorities have spent $1.67 million battling the blaze so far
  • Evacuees were escorted to their homes to retrieve essentials
  • The Loveland-area Reservoir fire has covered 710 acres, an official says, down from an earlier estimate

(CNN) -- Residents forced from their homes by a wildfire near Loveland, Colorado, were allowed to return briefly on Tuesday to retrieve some of their belongings, while firefighters continued to battle the blaze that officials say is now 35 percent contained.

Evacuees were asked to gather at the Bison Visitor Center to sign up and show identification before being taken back to their homes, Terry Krasko, a spokesman for the fire incident management team, told reporters. Speaking Tuesday night, he said the Loveland-area fire is 35 percent contained, and he put the cost of battling the blaze so far at $1.67 million.

Larimer County Sheriff James Alderden, who helped to coordinate the evacuees' return, told reporters more than 100 people were escorted back to their homes to gather medications and other essentials.

"Anybody who wanted to go in that was here today was allowed to go in," he said.

Video: How Loveland fire started
RELATED TOPICS
  • Wildfires
  • Colorado

The brush fire, which has burned two houses, has covered an area of 710 acres, according to Krasko. His estimate, which he said was based on more accurate mapping, was lower than an earlier one of some 925 acres.

Krasko said firefighters will continue to battle the blaze overnight and that he was hopeful the weather would cooperate.

"We have some wind predicted for tonight. We don't know if it'll come ... At this point in time, we're cautiously optimistic," he said.

Officials have said evacuations have included 200 structures within a four-mile radius of Pinewood Reservoir, located near Loveland. No injuries have been reported.

Late Monday, emergency management officials at another wildfire -- the Fourmile Canyon fire in Boulder, 40 miles to the south -- said it was 100 percent contained, allowing crews to move to the Loveland-area Reservoir fire.

The Reservoir fire broke out as residents forced out of their homes by the Fourmile Canyon fire began returning home Sunday.

The Fourmile Canyon wildfire appears to have been sparked by a fire pit at a residence, said Boulder County Sheriff's Office Cmdr. Rick Brough. He added the property owner had made attempts to extinguish the fire by dousing it with water and stirring the ashes, but that the wind probably reignited the embers and blew them out of the pit.

Brough said Monday it was still too early to say whether criminal charges would be pursued.

The Boulder fire, which started early last week, charred more than 6,400 acres of mountainous countryside and destroyed 172 structures -- 166 of which were homes -- on Boulder's far west side.

CNN's Justin Lear contributed to this report.