Rangers close large chunks of public forest in West as wildfires


Area residents who evacuated but have pets at their homes should call Summit County Animal Control at 970-668-4143 for help retrieving them.

A total of at least seven major wildfires were raging in parts Colorado on Tuesday, marking the biggest concentration of roughly 30 blazes burning across nine Western states as the 2018 summer wildfire season heated up across the region.

The 416 Fire began June 1 near Durango, Colorado.

The blaze, named the Buffalo Fire, quickly spread across 100 acres on Tuesday and came alarmingly close to housing developments located approximately 60 miles west of Denver, The Mercury News reported.

Though the fire is expected to continue burning until then, it doesn't mean the Type I team will manage the fire the entirety of the time, or that people will be out of their homes for that long, spokeswoman Jamie Knight said. It's only 15 percent contained, according to the National Forest Service.

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The SJNF covers 1.8 million acres within the Dolores Ranger District, the Columbine Ranger District, and the Pagosa Ranger District across nine counties in southwestern Colorado.

US Forest Service official Jim Genung said that fuel breaks added to the forests in recent years have saved thousands of homes from "having fire in them".

Violating Stage 3 fire restrictions or going into a closed area carries a mandatory appearance in federal court, and is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.

Graham said earlier that 2,162 structures or homes have been evacuated since the beginning of the fire, and 500 residents are now on pre-evacuation. "Our state agencies are here to support you".

Voos said Highway 230 remains open, however visibility could be obscured at times due to smoke.

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Summit County Sheriff Jamie FitzSimons said that about 1,000 people are affected at the moment in a quickly changing situation.

"The fire grew extremely rapidly", Berino said.

Summit Fire responded to the fire around 11 a.m. Tuesday and ordered residents in the Mesa Cortina and Wildernest above Twenty Grand Road to evacuate their homes.

Similarly, the spokesperson speculated that perhaps some insulation blew off a home and burned in the sun.

Patrick Seekins, of the Dolores Ranger District, said a containment line on the west side also was a priority to prevent the fire from traveling down Bear Creek toward private property and residences at Colorado Highway 145.

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A fire in California that burned nearly 200 acres has been contained, officials said.