Colorado fire forces evacuation of more homes

Source Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team

Law enforcement began notifying residents door-to-door at 10 a.m. Friday. Residents had until 4 p.m. Friday to evacuate. Winds will be calm in the morning until around 10:30 a.m., and will increase to 10 to 15 miles per hour from the west/southwest in the afternoon. Durango was operating an evacuation center and a shelter and taking in livestock at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.

As of Friday evening, no structures were threatened and no evacuation orders had been issued.

Officials have restricted access to parts of Highway 550, which includes a scenic stretch known as the Million Dollar Highway.

La Plata County's latest order follows the evacuation of more than 1,000 homes earlier along U.S. Highway 550, a key artery connecting the cities of Durango and Silverton, roughly 135 miles (217 kilometers) northwest of the Four Corners Monument that connects Colorado with Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. At least 675 homes are affected by the new evacuations. The Burro fire, also in San Juan National Forest, had a footprint of about 500 acres Sunday morning.

Fire officials said the priority for Friday will be to protect structures in the Hermosa area.

"We're going to stay vigilant, and make sure there are no hot spots", Eaby said.

Torching and crown runs were reported as the fire crossed the Jones Creek Trail and the Hermosa Creek Trail, but not the Hermosa Creek drainage. Officials are preparing to battle the blaze for a long time, said Shawn Bawden, a fire information officer.

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La Plata County officials said U.S. Highway 550 will remain closed Monday from mile markers 32 to 64 (Cometti Lane to the top of Molas Pass). No structures had been lost as of Friday morning.

The fire is about a quarter of a mile from the nearest house, and fire officials said structure protection is in place.

Slurry was used in an attempt to slow the fire in an attempt to battle the blaze, after several days without it. Fire spokesman Brian Eady says the change is the result of both natural fire growth and blazes firefighters intentionally set to control the fire's movement.

Aerial operations are creating a larger burnout area on the north side of the fire to serve as a barrier should the fire spread that direction from the southwest.

"There was less activity on that side last night", Eaby said. Firefighters were able to respond quickly to another fire that started Saturday near Wolcott.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a dense smoke advisory for Southwest Colorado from 9 p.m. Sunday through noon Monday.

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