Fight­ing the 416 fire reaches cost of $10M

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Kirk Mitchell and Kieran Ni­chol­son

T he 416 fire in south­west­ern Colorado, which has burned 27,420 acres since June 1, has so far cost $10 mil­lion to sup­press.

The fire, which is 15 per­cent con­tained and burn­ing north of Du­rango in the San Juan Na­tional For­est, has not burned any struc­tures, nor has it in­jured any­one, fire of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day. No deaths have been re­ported. More than 1,000 fire­fight­ers were bat­tling the blaze Wed­nes­day. Some of the more than 2,000 res­i­den­tial evac­uees from the fire were al­lowed home Wed­nes­day, in­clud­ing res­i­dents from the Ta­mar­ron, Glacier Club & Rock­wood ar­eas. With fire con­di­tions al­ready at his­tor­i­cally dan­ger­ous lev­els in south­west Colorado, fire­fight­ers were keep­ing their eyes on the skies. The fore­cast called for a light­ning storm, which could spark new fires. Also fore­cast were strong winds, which could push the fire into neigh­bor­hoods north of Du­rango. “It’s not good news,” said Shawn Daw­den, spokesman for the Rocky Moun­tain In­ci­dent Man­age­ment Team.

A red flag watch is in place as a storm ap­proaches the south­west moun­tains. The storm is ex­pected to in­clude dan­ger­ous cloud-to­moun­tain light­ning strikes and winds that could reach 40 mph, Daw­den said.

“Weather is go­ing to con­tinue to play a role over the next few days, con­tinue to in­flu­ence some of our de­ci­sions and the fire be­hav­ior,” said Jamie Knight, a 416 fire spokes­woman. “That’s the big pic­ture story right now — fire­fight­ers mak­ing chal­leng­ing de­ci­sions about tac­tics and strate­gies,” in part, based on up­com­ing weather.

Over the last 24 hours, the vo­ra­cious 416 wild­fire con­sumed an­other 4,042 acres of mostly for­est lands west of U.S. High­way 550, Daw­den said Wed­nes­day morn­ing. The fire is 15 per­cent con­tained.

“I’m happy to say that we have not had any houses burned or peo­ple hurt,” Daw­den said.

Pre­vi­ously evac­u­ated res­i­dents in the Rock­wood, Ta­mar­ron and Glacier Club sub­di­vi­sions were al­lowed to re­turn to their homes Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. They must have “RapidTag” cre­den­tials with them when they re­turn. The high­way closed at 6 p.m. Those res­i­dents will re­main un­der a pre-evac­u­a­tion no­tice.

The most ac­tive part of the fire is in the south­west corner where the blaze is ap­proach­ing neigh­bor­hoods, he said.

Cur­rently, 1,029 fire­fight­ers, eight he­li­copters and sev­eral air­planes are bat­tling the wild­fire, Daw­den said.

Daw­den said the cause of the fire is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The drought-driven wild­fire has closed the San Juan Na­tional For­est in south­west Colorado for the first time in its 113-year his­tory. The gen­eral pub­lic is pro­hib­ited from en­ter­ing the 1.8 mil­lion-acre for­est that stretches across nine coun­ties. The clo­sure comes at the start of the area’s busy sum­mer sea­son, which at­tracts vis­i­tors and tourists from around the world.

Also, fire­fight­ers ag­gres­sively bat­tled the Buf­falo wild­fire through the night Tues­day, pre­vent­ing it from spread­ing be­yond the 91 acres it con­sumed two miles west of Sil­ver­thorne.

So far, no one has been in­jured and no homes have been de­stroyed.

Helen H. Richard­son, The Denver Post

Colorado State Pa­trol Trooper Ben Stuever talks to home­owner Jim Siepiela be­fore al­low­ing him to drive through the road clo­sure on U.S. 550 in Her­mosa on Wed­nes­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.