Colorado's 416 Wildfire: Durango Warnings Issued As Lightning Storm Threatens New Blazes

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The 12-day-old conflagration, dubbed the 416 Fire, was by far the largest and most threatening of at least a half-dozen blazes raging across Colorado as the 2018 summer wildfire season heated up across the Western United States.

The Badger Creek Fire in southern Wyoming exploded in size.

Wildfires continued burning across parts of Colorado Tuesday, as firefighters rushed to contain the flames ignited amid a unsafe drought across the western U.S.

Voos says 393 homes in the area have been evacuated since the fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest was first reported on Sunday.

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. This year, almost 24,000 wildfires have burned more than 1.7 million acres across the country. Several small communities of permanent and seasonal residences were ordered evacuated, but no buildings were burned. Those living below 20 Grand Road were placed on a pre-evacuation notice.


La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith said about 70 percent of residents who were evacuated have been allowed to return home.

The fire, north of Durango in the San Juan National Forest, has spread to more than 27,000 acres since it started on June 1.

The fire began Tuesday about 2 miles west of Silverthorne, a town with about 4,700 residents about 65 miles west of Denver. Officials are crediting fuel breaks in helping contain the fire, a system that has been in place since 2007.

About 50 firefighters were battling the blaze initially, but more were on the way, along with heavy air tankers and helicopters. Incident Commander Todd Pechota said he plans to bring in more crews to replace outgoing firefighters.

In New Mexico, the Santa Fe National Forest was closed days ago "due to extreme fire danger", the Forest Service said.


With fires still burning, wooded areas could be off limits for the rest of the week as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) gets ready to enforce a forest closure order. The 416 Fire's cause is still unknown.

Packard said the adobe-style resort has seen no impact from the forest closure and credited authorities with putting up signs telling visitors that local businesses are open.

The Burro Fire, burning 10 miles west of the 416 Fire, has grown to 3,400 acres and has no containment.

The fire destroyed 14 unoccupied structures at the Boy Scouts' Philmont Ranch overnight as it burned near Highway 64 in Ute Park.

Fire officials held a news conference Thursday where they said the fire is only four miles away from the city of Durango, but they still feel they have it under control.


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