Thousands of acres destroyed in Colorado, New Mexico fires

By Susan McFarland  |  June 2, 2018 at 6:02 PM
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June 2 (UPI) -- Wildfires in Colorado and New Mexico Friday and Saturday burned thousands of acres, destroyed buildings and caused mass evacuations.

The 416 Fire in Colorado's La Plata County burned 1,100 acres, spurring more than 800 homes to be vacated on Saturday and residents of 750 more homes to be put on alert.

The fire, which was north of Durango Friday morning, was being fueled by shifting winds that caused nearly two square miles to be burned.

Temperatures in the upper 80s Saturday afternoon did not help conditions but a 50 percent chance of rain is expected Sunday, which officials said could help if lightning does not spark another fire.

In Colfax County, New Mexico, the Ute Park fire had burned more than 27,000 acres by Saturday. More than 450 personnel were trying to get control over the fire, which destroyed 14 buildings and put 300 homes at risk.

High winds on Saturday exacerbated the blaze, which caused a mandatory evacuation order to be issued in the town of Cimarron, where 296 structures were at risk of burning. The forecast on Sunday calls for a 60 percent chance of rain in the area.

The Santa Fe National Forest remained closed Saturday and will not reopen until extreme drought conditions improve, according to officials.

Cause of the fires in both states remain under investigation.

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