Colorado Wildfire Evacuees Return to Homes

Wildfire blackened 51 square miles


Smoke rises from the 416 Fire behind the U.S. Highway 550 road block at Cometti Lane on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, near Durango, Colo. (Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP)


By The Associated Press

Hundreds of Colorado residents who were forced to evacuate from a wildfire were allowed to return home Friday, while crews in Wyoming were encouraged when a fire there moved into less volatile areas.

About 1,000 homes remained under evacuation orders in southwest Colorado because of a fire that had blackened 51 square miles (132 square kilometers).

At one point, 2,200 homes were evacuated. No structures have burned.

The fire, which started June 1, is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Durango. Fire managers said the cause is still under investigation.

Heavy rains were forecast for the Durango area Saturday after days of heat. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning and said flooding could hit areas where the fire burned away trees and bushes.

The Wyoming wildfire had burned about 23 square miles (60 square kilometers) by Friday, destroying a home and two outbuildings. About 400 residences have been evacuated in 10 small communities.

Crews had not been able to cut fire lines around any significant distance of the perimeter, but fire managers were encouraged Friday because the flames had moved from dense forests full of beetle-killed trees into areas with mostly grass and brush that burn with less intensity.

The fire was about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southwest of Laramie, Wyoming, near the Colorado border.

The fire started Sunday. The cause was under investigation.

The U.S. Forest Service closed about 100 square miles (nearly 260 square kilometers) of public land straddling the Colorado-Wyoming state line because of the fire.

About 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) of the Arapahoe-Roosevelt National Forest in northern Colorado was closed Friday. A day earlier, about 75 square miles (194 square kilometers) of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in southern Wyoming was closed.

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