Colorado wildfire doubles in size, thousands evacuated

Colorado Wildfires

Colorado Wildfires

According to La Plata County, 220 homes in the Falls Creek/West CR 203 area are being evacuated.

Gusting winds driving the flames of a largely uncontrolled wildfire are expected to keep fanning the blaze through an 11th day on Monday on the bone-dry hills of southwest Colorado, where more than 2,000 homes have already been evacuated.

Friday's priority was protecting structures around Hermosa, Brian Eaby, a spokesman for a federal team in charge of the firefighting effort, told The Durango Herald. At least 675 homes are affected by the new evacuations.

Traffic is restricted on U.S. Highway 550 because of heavy firefighter activity. Law enforcement officers began knocking on the doors of homes at 10 a.m. Friday on the east and west sides of US 550 from Electra Lake Drive north to Hermosa Cliffs Road and to the north end of Two Dogs Trail.

"Southwest to west winds will be strengthening across south west Colorado this weekend ahead of a Pacific storm that will be tracking across the Northwest Rockies", officials said in a release. The fire in this area is behaving as predicted, according to fire authorities.

Along with the fixed wing aircraft, four Type I helicopters, two Type II helicopters and two Type III helicopters will fight the fire from the air. Fire behavior has been mostly inactive here, and firefighters continue to patrol and mop up these areas.

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Low humidity and high winds have left firefighters bracing for the fire to spread and the weather was expected to be dry and windy on Sunday. On Friday night, Fremont County Sheriff's Office said the fire had grown to more than 30 acres and was headed northeast. Officials are preparing to battle the blaze for a long time, said Shawn Bawden, a fire information officer.

The so-called 416 Fire in southwest Colorado had burned almost 17,000 acres by Sunday morning, an area larger than Manhattan.

Map of the 416 Fire at 9:15 p.m. MDT June 7, 2018. No structures had been lost as of Friday morning. The combination of weather and fuel conditions created the potential for significant fire intensity and growth. Gusts are expected to be between 15-20 miles per hour at the fire, and Durango is expecting a high of 84 degrees, said Michael Charnick with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

The cause of the blaze, which is being called the 416 Fire, which started June 1 in the San Juan National Forest, has not been determined.

As of Saturday morning, the Bureau of Land Management said the Natty Fire was 30 percent contained.

Since the fire was first reported on June 1, about 1,309 homes have been evacuated.

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