Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Western Wildfires Burn Aggressively, Forcing Thousands to Flee

Extreme fire danger in the West forces another national forest to close A wildfire rages in Hermosa Colo
Jeannette Daniel | 14 June, 2018, 19:19

On Wednesday, Day 13 of the 416 Fire, the blaze had grown to 25,900 acres and remains at 15 percent contained. No structures have been lost.

"The indices our fire team uses to predict fire danger are at historic levels well before we can expect any significant moisture from the seasonal monsoons", said Richard Bustamante, SJNF forest fire staff officer.

A wildfire erupted Tuesday in an area of Colorado known for its ski resorts, forcing the evacuation of more than 1,300 homes and marking the latest in a series of blazes that have ignited in the drought-stricken U.S. West. He says the developments are densely populated, serving as homes for area workers, rather than having sprawling vacation homes.

Voos said people who have been evacuated can not return to their properties to retrieve belongings, as officials need to know that the area is clear.

Anyone caught violating the closure, SJNF said, could be punished with an individual fine of up to $5,000 or $10,000 for an organization, a six-month prison sentence, or both.

Accurate mapping of the fire size has proven hard due to weather conditions and the rapid fire growth; however, the fire is now estimated to be 2,300 acres or about 3.6 square miles.

The SJNF covers 1.8 million acres within the Dolores Ranger District, the Columbine Ranger District, and the Pagosa Ranger District across nine counties in southwestern Colorado.

"Our state agencies are here to support you".

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"I'm sad and I'm disappointed, and there is going to be lots of time for tears, but we all just have to suck it up and rebuild-and that's what brings us closer together as a community", Carrigan said.

The situation was better in central Washington, where authorities lifted evacuation orders or warnings for about 50 residents as crews work to contain a wildfire burning grass and brush.

Authorities ordered the residents of 675 homes to evacuate after the fire burning north of Durango almost doubled in size overnight to 26 square miles (67 square kilometers).

Crews have been working around the clock battling the largest fire near Durango, Colorado. Forest Service Spokesman Aaron Voos said updates on acreage and containment will be available Monday afternoon.

The fire had not destroyed any homes as of Tuesday night.

La Plata County spokeswoman Megan Graham tells CPR News that the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railroad is also closed, and the Purgatory ski area is now within the evacuation area and closed to summer activities as well. This year, almost 24,000 wildfires have burned more than 1.7 million acres across the country.

A fire in California that burned nearly 200 acres has been contained, officials said.

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