• Original Reporting
  • Sources Cited
Original Reporting This article contains new, firsthand information uncovered by its reporter(s). This includes directly interviewing sources and research / analysis of primary source documents.
Sources Cited As a news piece, this article cites verifiable, third-party sources which have all been thoroughly fact-checked and deemed credible by the Newsroom in accordance with the Civil Constitution.
A firefighting helicopter drops its payload on the Elephant Butte Fire near Evergreen on July 13, 2020. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Roughly 1,000 homes were evacuated Monday evening after a wildfire ignited across a steep mountain in Evergreen sending a column of smoke into the air that was visible from Denver.

The Elephant Butte Fire was burning on about 50 acres as of 7 p.m. and firefighters, helicopters and firefighting airplanes are scrambling to the area to knock down the blaze before it reaches area homes. More resources are being ordered, including at least one elite team of “hot shot” firefighters.

There have been no reports of injuries or destroyed structures.

The fire is burning just west of Evergreen Golf Course on the 3100 block of Upper Bear Creek Road. Flames engulfed the tops of trees at many points.

A sunbeam illuminates the Elephant Butte Fire burning near Evergreen on July 13, 2020 as seen from Idledale. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Stacee Martin, a spokeswoman for Evergreen Fire Rescue, said a 911 call about the fire was placed at about 2:45 p.m. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office began sending evacuation calls out shortly thereafter.

“It has grown rapidly because of the wind and the conditions,” Martin said. “This is in a very rocky part of our district.

The Denver area has seen hot weather for about a week straight with little moisture. A rainstorm moved across the burn area around dusk, which Martin said could help douse the flames but also create problems because of shifting winds.

Firefighters were contending with lightning in the area, which briefly forced them to seek shelter.

The Elephant Butte Fire burns near Evergreen on July 13, 2020 as seen from Idledale. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Officials say the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Fire danger across Colorado is high after an average snow season and following weeks of hot, dry weather. Resources are spread thin because of the coronavirus crisis, which officials have warned could make rapid response to a massive blaze more difficult.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....