Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Fire Doubles In Size In Just 24 Hours; New Evacuation Orders Given

Fire Doubles In Size In Just 24 Hours; New Evacuation Orders Given

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.

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

The fire has burned 26 square miles (67 square kilometers) as of Sunday, up from almost 14 square miles (36 square kilometers) Saturday. They add that the stability and dryness levels over the fire are rated as the highest, most extreme for Sunday.

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.

The fire, known as the 416 fire, hadn't damaged any structures, firefighters said in a statement Sunday, although several communities and a resort were evacuated and officials closed a section of a state highway. It was 10 percent contained.

"They're either actively fighting the fire or they're going to homes that are not yet in the fire's path yet, doing preparations, making it more fire safe", explained Chief Dave Beebe.

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The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also issued an air quality health advisory because of wildfire smoke for a large portion of Southwest Colorado. The cause hasn't been determined. It comes amid a severe drought in the Four Corners area where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet.

A stubborn Colorado wildfire grew by around a fifth on Saturday and was expected to continue to grow Sunday, consuming sparsely populated land as low humidity and high winds left firefighters bracing for it to spread, officials said.

As of 11 a.m. Friday, a total of 1,625 homes were evacuated and 1,272 homes were on pre-evacuation notice. At 7 p.m. the San Juan National Forest was in the process of issuing closure orders for this fire.

Emergency responders say they've kept a week-old wildfire in southwestern Colorado from destroying any houses so far. On Friday night, Fremont County Sheriff's Office said the fire had grown to more than 30 acres and was headed northeast. More information about evacuations is available at the La Plata County Government Facebook page.

In 2017, a near-record 10 million acres were burned in US wildfires, the National Interagency Coordination Center said. Almost 700 firefighters are on scene. The fire is only 10 percent contained.

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