Monday, 18 June, 2018

Colorado wildfires displace thousands, prompt national forest closure

Entire San Juan National Forest To Be Closed To Public Eyewitness images reveal devastation of Colorado wildfires (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
Deanna Wagner | 15 June, 2018, 00:34

As of Wednesday afternoon there were 43 large fires burning in 12 states throughout the country: Alaska, Washington, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Florida.

Firefighters in Summit County are dealing with dry conditions and gusty winds as they battle the Buffalo Mountain Fire. Winds out of the west are expected to gust to 25 miles per hour.

"There were big black rolling clouds coming off it and it had gotten to the edge of the forest, right next to the neighborhood", he added.

"We have no reports of any structures lost at this time", said Julie McCluskie, a spokeswoman for the fire command.

Flames engulf trees in the Wildernest neighbourhood. Pre-evacuation orders are in place for Foxborough, Foxpark and Miller Lake and Voos said those communities should be prepared to evacuate if County officials ask them to.

"We recognize that this is hard for the local businesses and the local economy and just ask that people just be understanding and patient", Hooley said. "We just want to go home", evacuee Pam Mooney told KDVR.com.

About 200 firefighters are on the scene, with more on the way.

The 416 Fire has already forced people to flee about 2,000 homes in the 11 days since it started while pre-evacuation notices were issued for another 127 homes on Monday, officials in La Plata County said.

No homes had burned, but 14 outbuildings have been destroyed.

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The fire burning 10 miles north of Durango had consumed 42 square miles as of Thursday morning and was 15 percent contained.

The incident commander says firefighters are doing their best to get it under control.

"I think we've had help from the angels", said Rob Powell, operations chief for the fire which has prompted the closure of the 1.8 million acre San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado.

Elsewhere, the San Juan Basin Public Health is advising people to remain indoors if the smoke from the fire becomes too thick and to limit outdoor activity, especially among those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young and the elderly.

The fire has burned about 17 square miles (44 square kilometers) and forced the evacuation of almost 400 residences in 10 small communities in the area.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the 416 fire.

It's burning near where a wildfire charred more than 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) in April and May.

Fire officials have been expecting a busy wildfire season after a dry winter, possibly the worst since 2012 and 2013, when the Black Forest Fire in El Paso County destroyed almost 500 homes, the most in state history.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.