Colorado wildfire doubles in size, thousands evacuated as blaze expected to grow

Colorado wildfire doubles in size, thousands evacuated as blaze expected to grow

The Durango Herald reports that no homes had been lost by late Friday to the fire, which has blackened more than 11 square miles (29 square kilometers).

With dry, windy weather in the forecast Sunday, firefighters said they expect the fire to continue to grow. At least 675 homes are affected by the new evacuations.

Fire officials said in a release that the weather will likely make things worse Sunday, as more severe winds are expected.

Health officials issued an air quality alert in southwestern and south-central Colorado because of the heavy smoke from both the 416 and Burro Fires. Law enforcement officers began knocking on the doors of homes at 10 a.m. Friday on the east and west sides of USA 550 from Electra Lake Drive north to Hermosa Cliffs Road and to the north end of Two Dogs Trail. At 7 p.m. the San Juan National Forest was in the process of issuing closure orders for this fire.

As of Saturday morning, the Colorado fire remained at 10 percent contained, but it had grown by about 1,500 acres (607 hectares) since Friday, mostly in less inhabited areas to the west that officials said they were monitoring while they concentrate on protecting structures to the east, north and south. 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.

The Type I team managing the 416 Fire will also assume command of the Burro Fire at 6 a.m. Monday and a separate camp will be set up for management of the Burro Fire.

A red flag warning was in place from 10 a.m.to 10 p.m. Sunday. Winds are expected to increase throughout the week.

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As the weather persists, La Plata County commissioners will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday to consider enacting Stage 3 fire restrictions.

An evacuation center and shelter is open 24 hours a day at Escalante Middle School at 141 Baker Lane in Durango.

Residents of a total of 2,156 homes have been ordered to evacuate as of Sunday afternoon, La Plata County spokeswoman Megan Graham told The Durango Herald.

Livestock can be evacuated to the La Plata County Fairgrounds at 2500 Main Avenue.

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

For up-to-date information on evacuation status, you are asked to call the La Plata County Emergency Operations Center at (970) 385-8700.

This Saturday, June 9, 2018 photo shows the results of a previous back burn to keep the the wildfire from advancing towards homes along County Road 201 near Hermosa, Colo.

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