Wildfire doubles in size, thousands evacuated


Authorities in southwest Colorado ordered the evacuations of another 300 homes Friday to allow firefighters to attack an advancing flank of a wildfire that burned miles of rugged terrain, but had yet to damage or destroy any structures. The fire in this area is behaving as predicted, according to fire authorities. Crews underwent a successful burnout operation on the southwest side of the fire overnight that lasted until midnight, Eaby said.

Along with the fixed wing aircraft, four Type I helicopters, two Type II helicopters and two Type III helicopters will fight the fire from the air.

The fire is the largest of several burning in Colorado, including another fire that broke out nearby Friday.

Todd Pechota of the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team, said the combination of weather and fuel conditions is creating significant potential for fire intensity and growth Sunday.

The fire, which was first reported at 10:02 a.m. Friday, June 1 in San Juan National Forest, about 10 miles north of Durango, has since gone on to spread across more than 16,000 acres, according to La Plata County officials.

No structures have been lost. A second evacuation check-in site is open from 9 a.m.to 4 p.m. daily at the Silverton Town Hall, 1360 Greene Street in Silverton.

Additional resources are headed to battle the two fires, but on Sunday night, Griffee didn't have details.

The evacuations were issued in anticipation of the fire behavior and wind conditions expected Friday on the north end of the 416 Fire.

A release from the La Plata County government last week said: "Wind and weather conditions on Saturday helped to limit the physical growth of the fire, with 3-5 miles per hour winds and gusts up to 10 miles per hour".

A red flag warning was in place from 10 a.m.to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Critical weather conditions are expected during the weekend.

But officials said winds should drop on Monday (June 11) leaving smoke heavy and low in the valley and visibility restricted. It could also ban certain activities in unincorporated parts of the county.

Highway 550 southbound will remain open Friday until 6 p.m.to through traffic only with law enforcement pilot vehicles escorting convoys through the fire area.

Around 1,625 people have been evacuated from their homes since the blaze began, and 304 more homes were reportedly abandoned yesterday. The advisory was issued for La Plata County, San Juan County, northeastern Montezuma County and eastern Dolores County. A CodeRED notification has been sent to residents.