Colorado wildfire forces more evacuations

Colorado Wildfires

The rapidly-growing wildfire has now burned 16,766 acres and is still only 10 percent contained, La Plata County officials said Sunday.

More evacuations were ordered Sunday morning for people near the 416 fire.

Firefighters plan to use pre-positioned sprinkler systems, fire hoses and fire engines, as well as aircraft, to protect the homes.

Officials have restricted access to parts of Highway 550, which includes a scenic stretch known as the Million Dollar Highway.

Fire officials say terrain is rough and inaccessible in many areas making the fight that much more hard for crews on the ground.

"We do not anticipate at this time losing any structures", Eaby said. "The structure group will continue assessing and preparing structures in the unlikely event of direct impingement from the fire". An order was issued to 675 residences at 9:45 a.m., including Purgatory/Durango Mountain Resort, Lake Purgatory, Silver Pick Lodge, Cascade Village, Mill Creek and all residences on both sides of U.S. Highway 550 between mile markers 46.5 to 53.1. Residents had until 4 p.m. Friday to evacuate. By Sunday afternoon, more than 30 miles had been closed. Pilot cars are escorting commuters through the closure from 8 a.m.to 6 p.m. daily. The combination of weather and fuel conditions created the potential for significant fire intensity and growth. Southwest to west winds are gaining strength across southwest Colorado.




Temperatures were in the 80s with extremely low humidity and calmer winds Friday. The Haines Index, measuring the stability and dryness of air over a fire, is at 6 - the highest, most extreme value in the index, officials warned.

Large smoke columns visible Sunday from Durango came as fire behavior intensified near the Lower Hermosa Campground and burned conifer stands.

In addition, an air quality health advisory was extended on Sunday due to unhealthy levels of smoke, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Fire danger is high across Colorado.

The blaze is burning north of Durango and fire officials said no one has been injured and no structures have been destroyed. For now the fire's area is located west of the highway and hasn't crossed to the east side, which is more heavily populated, Bawden said. It was 10 percent contained. Crews will continue to monitor and battle the blaze near County Road 201 to make sure the fire doesn't get out of hand in the area.

The 416 Fire started June 1 in the San Juan National Forest but the cause hasn't been determined. The Burro fire was estimated to be at about 100 acres as of Saturday morning.

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