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Search suspended for Colo. woman missing in fire

Associated Press Modified: March 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm •  Published: March 31, 2012
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CONIFER, Colo. (AP) — The search for a Colorado woman missing in a wildfire has been suspended after rescuers found human remains in her burned home.

Jefferson County authorities say they don't know yet whether the remains found Saturday are those of Ann Appel, reported missing since Monday.

If the remains belong to Appel, she would become the third fatality in a wildfire that has scorched about 6 square miles southwest of Denver.

An elderly couple found dead in one of the more than two dozen homes damaged or destroyed by the fire were buried Friday.

Residents of about 180 homes remain evacuated.

Firefighters have contained more than 90 percent of the wildfire, which was apparently sparked by a state controlled burn that sprang to life Monday in strong winds.

Jefferson County has tightened its fire restrictions to temporarily ban anything producing an open flame in unincorporated parts of the county, including federal land.

On Saturday morning, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office used an automated call system to warn residents of about 500 homes that gusty winds and dry conditions mean they could be asked to evacuate at a moment's notice.

On Monday, sheriff's officials alerted people to evacuate via the call system, but authorities have said about 12 percent of the people they intended to notify didn't get a warning. Sheriff's spokesman Mark Techmeyer said some people likely hung up after hearing a pause that precedes the automated message, or their phone lines may have been busy.

He said that can happen in any emergency, but authorities were most concerned that there wasn't any attempt to reach an unknown number of additional people registered to get the telephone alerts.

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