Part of De Beque evacuates as wildfire spreads | AspenTimes.com

Part of De Beque evacuates as wildfire spreads

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

De Beque, Colo. – An erratic wildfire gaining steam in western Colorado prompted officials to evacuate homes of about 50 residents south of De Beque on Thursday night, a Bureau of Land Management spokesman said.

The wildfire was sparked by lightning Wednesday and has quickly grown to about 15 square miles, BLM spokesman Christopher Joyner said. It was threatening to cross Interstate 70 Thursday night. A 13-mile stretch of the highway northeast of Palisade was closed.

The blaze was threatening at least seven structures, and there are about 50 natural gas and oil wellheads in the area, Joyner said.

The fire is in the Book Cliffs southwest of De Beque and about 175 miles west of Denver.

Crews were making progress on other fires around the state.

About 1,900 people who were displaced by a deadly wildfire in northern Colorado were being allowed back into their homes Thursday.

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The announcement came as firefighters said they hope to have the 136-square-mile fire completely contained by this weekend.

The High Park Fire erupted June 9 and killed one person and destroyed 257 homes. It is 85 percent contained.

In Boulder County, evacuation orders were lifted for 28 households Thursday after a wildfire burning in the mountains west of the city of Boulder slowed down.

Officials say cooler temperatures decreased concern for the Flagstaff Fire, which was about 30 percent contained and has scorched at least 300 acres near Boulder. Heavy rain fell on the fire area, increasing humidity.

Residents on Colorado’s eastern plains have also been allowed to return home after the Last Chance grass fire was fully contained. The fire destroyed four homes, 10 outbuildings and a county bridge.

Located about 60 miles east of Denver, the fire was started by sparks from a tire blowout, Washington County Sheriff Larry Kuntz said. That fire began Monday and was quickly brought under control.

Near Mancos in southwestern Colorado, firefighters worked to douse hot spots on the Weber fire, which began winding down on Wednesday. The 6-day-old fire burned 14 square miles and was 45 percent contained.

Joyner said fire danger remains high with extremely dry conditions around the state. “We’ve gotten so much support for firefighters, people asking how they can support firefighters,” Joyner said. “They can support us by not smoking outside of vehicles or homes, no campfires, no grilling out.”

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