Over 2,000 evacuated in Colorado as 416 Fire doubles in size amid strong winds
By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
June 13, 2018, 4:11:44 AM EDT
Firefighters in southwestern Colorado faced challenging weather conditions as the expansive 416 Fire doubled in size over the weekend and grew even more on Monday and Tuesday.
The blaze, which began on June 1 about 10 miles north of Durango, Colorado, had burned over 8,600 acres by Saturday, June 9. However, that number had doubled to 16,766 acres by Sunday, June 10.
As of Tuesday afternoon, June 12, the fire was 15 percent contained and had burned more than 23,350 acres.
“Critical fire weather conditions persisted on Monday as predicted. Winds gusted up to 35 to 40 mph on the ridges, causing increased fire behavior and intensity in Divisions H and D on the western side,” officials said.
"The fire has been very active and continues to burn in rough and inaccessible terrain."
Additional evacuations were ordered over the weekend, increasing the number of residences evacuated to 2,156. More than 370 residences remain under pre-evacuation notices.
On Sunday night, the fire moved its way into an area with structures, but no structures have been lost so far and no firefighters have been injured.
"The work that the community has done to make this area “firewise” contributed a great deal to firefighters’ ability to defend these homes," officials said.
More than 1,000 firefighters are working to contain the blaze. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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The San Juan National Forest is planning to implement a forest-wide closure that will go into effect on June 12. The closure is due to ongoing drought and wildfire conditions.
In addition to the 416 Fire, a fire broke out on Buffalo Mountain in Colorado on Tuesday morning, causing the evacuation of hundreds of residences in Silverthorne.
The Buffalo Mountain Fire is at 91 acres and is still growing. The fire is sending out embers, which are sparking more fires, Summit County officials tweeted.
A number of large blazes continued to burn in New Mexico, including the Ute Park Fire, which has burned more than 36,000 acres since it ignited May 31.
Hot, dry conditions are forecast through the middle of the week, but moisture from Hurricane Bud, currently located in the East Pacific, may infiltrate the Southwest late this week and this weekend and offer some relief.
"Winds across the West will turn a bit stronger later this week, making firefighting more difficult," AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.
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