Two wildfires burn in Colorado; other areas in danger | AspenTimes.com

Two wildfires burn in Colorado; other areas in danger

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

ALAMOSA, Colo. – High winds and rugged terrain kept ground crews and aircraft from getting close to a wildfire burning in Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado on Sunday.

A second fire burned across 170 acres on the Roan Plateau in western Colorado, and a red flag warning was issued for high fire danger across much of the central, southern and western parts of the state.

No injuries or damage to structures has been reported from either fire.

The fire in Great Sand Dunes grew to 4,500 acres by Sunday and was high in the Sangre de Cristo mountains on the east side of the park.

“Our hands are sort of tied in the last few days with the weather patterns and the inaccessibility of getting people up there,” fire information officer David Eaker said.

He said the fire spread on Sunday but crews didn’t know how much. Mapping flights planned later Sunday or early Monday were expected to provide that information.

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Eaker said the park is open and normal activities haven’t been affected, but a column of smoke was visible from the visitors center.

The park, about 150 miles south of Denver, has 30 square miles of sand dunes, some of them 750 feet high, the tallest in North America.

A fire on the Roan Plateau in western Colorado burned an additional 20 acres on Sunday on top of 150 the day before. About 100 firefighters and two helicopters were fighting the fire, and two aerial tankers were available, spokesman David Boyd said.

It was about 10 miles northwest of Rifle and 150 miles west of Denver.

The National Weather Service issued the red flag warning, saying high winds, low humidity and dry trees and vegetation made the area vulnerable to fire.

The warning was in effect until 9 p.m. Sunday. It covered an area from Colorado Springs and Pueblo on the east to Vail in the north to the state borders on the west and south.

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