Fire evacuations lifted in San Juan Co. Wednesday

Minnie Murray
June 15, 2018

In Colorado, massive wildfires displaced thousands of people and destroyed tens of thousands of acres, while in Beverly Hills some residents were forced to flee their homes Tuesday as flames erupted and threatened million dollar mansions.

Meanwhile, additional firefighters were headed to Wyoming to work on a wildfire that has exploded in size and prompted evacuations near the Colorado border.

Another wildfire is being fought in Colorado, this time near the town of Silverthorne along the busy Interstate 70 corridor.

The largest and most threatening blaze, a 12-day-old conflagration dubbed the 416 Fire, has scorched more than 9,460 hectares of drought-parched grass, brush and timber at the edge of the San Juan National Forest near the southwestern Colorado town of Durango.

Residences and businesses in the Rockwood, Tamarron, and Glacier Club areas who were evacuated on June 1 were allowed back into their homes Wednesday. The SJNF implemented Stage 1 fire restrictions on May 1, then Stage 2 fire restrictions on June 1, but conditions continued to worsen.

Homes in the 1000 block of County Road 204 at Sailing Hawks - 44 in all - are under pre-evac notice as well, La Plata County government said. The Buffalo Mountain Fire in the White River National Forest is an estimated 91 acres and throwing sparks and embers very close to structures in the Mesa Cortina and Wildernest neighborhoods.

The Buffalo Fire broke out Tuesday on a mountain near Silverthorne in Summit County, forcing the evacuation of more than 1,300 homes.

About 50 firefighters were battling the blaze initially, but more were on the way, along with heavy air tankers and helicopters.

"It's going to get worse before it gets better", incident commander Todd Pechota told the Durango Herald.

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.

This week, authorities in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico closed recreational areas and enacted fire restrictions because of the high fire danger.

UPDATE (2 p.m.): According to the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland Twitter, the communities of Beehive, Gramm, & Miller Lake communities are being evacuated by Albany County officials.

The San Juan and Santa Fe forests alone represent more than 5,000 square miles. Its cause is not yet known.

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

Fire officials on Thursday monitored storm activity to see how it would affect planned back-burns.

Officials said the blaze was initially emitting embers that were starting spot fires within about 250 feet of homes and structures.

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