New wild­fire erupts near Colo. ski re­sorts, houses

Yuma Sun - - OBITUARIES -

DEN­VER — A wild­fire erupted Tues­day in an area of Col­orado known for its ski re­sorts, forc­ing the evac­u­a­tion of more than 1,300 homes and mark­ing the lat­est in a se­ries of blazes that have ig­nited in the drought­stricken U.S. West.

The fire in cen­tral Col­orado had burned only about 100 acres but was dan­ger­ously close to two densely pop­u­lated hous­ing de­vel­op­ments near the town of Sil­ver­thorne, about 60 miles (97 kilo­me­ters) west of Den­ver. “This area, there is a lot of homes that are pretty tightly packed to­gether,” U.S. For­est Ser­vice spokesman Adam Bianchi said. “Be­ing a re­sort town, there’s a need for a lot of hous­ing and there’s only so much avail­able space for good land to build on.”

Bianchi said the Buf­falo Fire had come to within about 200 yards (183 me­ters) of a sub­di­vi­sion that in­cludes con­dos, apart­ments and pricey homes. The clos­est ski re­sort to the fire, Key­stone, is about 8 miles (12.8 kilo­me­ters) away and across a large reser­voir.

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

“I was ab­so­lutely shocked by how fast it spread,” Sil­ver­thorne res­i­dent Jake Schul­man told The Sum­mit Daily af­ter spot­ting the fire while hik­ing.

“There were big black rolling clouds com­ing off it and it had got­ten to the edge of the for­est, right next to the neigh­bor­hood,” he added.

The fire had not de­stroyed any homes as of Tues­day night. Col­orado’s largest blaze also kept burn­ing in the San Juan Na­tional For­est, which has been closed to the pub­lic to try to pre­vent ad­di­tional fires. The 416 Fire north of Du­rango in south­west Col­orado has burned about 36 square miles (about 93 square kilo­me­ters) and is par­tially con­tained. No homes have been lost.

It’s burn­ing in the Four Cor­ners re­gion where Col­orado, New Mexico, Ari­zona and Utah meet that is at the cen­ter of a large patch of ex­cep­tional drought. Much of the U.S. West is experiencing some level of drought.

More than 900 fire­fight­ers were deal­ing with rough and in­ac­ces­si­ble ter­rain, and res­i­dents of more than 2,000 homes have been forced to evac­u­ate since the flames ig­nited June 1.

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

The Badger Creek Fire grew rapidly Mon­day be­cause of strong winds and dry con­di­tions and had scorched about 3.6 square miles (9.3 square kilo­me­ters) of mostly bee­tle-killed for­est. Sev­eral small com­mu­ni­ties of per­ma­nent and seasonal res­i­dences were or­dered evac­u­ated, but no build­ings were burned.

Large wild­fires also forced evac­u­a­tions farther west. In cen­tral Utah, a wild­fire fed by dry con­di­tions and swift winds con­sumed more than 10 square miles (26 square kilo­me­ters) and burned a cabin. The Trail Moun­tain Fire be­gan as a pre­scribed burn but grew out of con­trol last week.

A wild­fire burn­ing grass and brush in cen­tral Wash­ing­ton threat­ened sev­eral dozen homes and other in­fra­struc­ture, while more than 250 fire­fight­ers raced to the hills over­look­ing Los Angeles to bat­tle a blaze in thick brush sur­rounded by large homes.

HUGH CAREY/SUM­MIT DAILY NEWS VIA AP

ERIN SIREK WITH THE SUM­MIT COUNTY SHER­IFF’S Depart­ment Res­i­dents car­ries a boy as res­i­dents evac­u­ate their homes from a wild­fire ap­proach­ing in the Wildernest neigh­bor­hood near Sil­ver­thorne, Colo., on Tues­day.

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