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Colorado wildfire doubles in size, thousands evacuated as blaze expected to grow
13 June 2018, 01:45 | Devin Moran
More evacuations ordered for the "416 Fire" north of Durango
More than 600 firefighters battled extreme conditions including hot weather, explosive fire and rugged terrain on Friday.
Firefighters have kept the Colorado fire to the west of Highway 550 and away from structures, county commissioners in La Plata County, Colorado, said in a Saturday Facebook post.
Kelsey Griffee, public information officer for the 416 Fire, said fire officials on Sunday evening do not think it is likely that the 416 Fire will merge with the Burro Fire, which is burning 10 miles to the west near Dolores.
The cause of the blaze, which is being called the 416 Fire, which started June 1 in the San Juan National Forest, has not been determined. No structures had been lost as of Friday morning.
The Disaster Assistance Center at the La Plata County Fairgrounds in Durango will be open from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Monday.
Additional resources are headed to battle the two fires, but on Sunday night, Griffee didn't have details. Winds will be calm in the morning until around 10:30 a.m., and will increase to 10 to 15 miles per hour from the west/southwest in the afternoon.
Aircraft estimated the new acreage at approximately 10 p.m. Sunday. The combination of weather and fuel conditions created the potential for significant fire intensity and growth. It was 10 percent contained.
Health officials have issued an air quality alert in southwestern Colorado because of heavy smoke from a wildfire.
Neither do the other thousands of people who've been evacuated because of this fire that's sending smoke billowing through the sky and shutting down the San Juan National Forest starting Tuesday. It could also ban certain activities in unincorporated parts of the county.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for most of Colorado on Saturday, signifying high fire danger.
U.S. Highway 550 will close indefinitely to both northbound and southbound traffic from Cometti/Mead Lane in Hermosa at mile point 32.2, to Cascade just north of Purgatory at mile point 53. Visibility is expected to be a quarter mile or less.
La Plata County's latest order follows the evacuation of more than 1,000 homes earlier along U.S. Highway 550, a key artery connecting the cities of Durango and Silverton, roughly 135 miles (217 kilometers) northwest of the Four Corners Monument that connects Colorado with Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. The advisory is in effect until 9 a.m. Monday. A CodeRED notification has been sent to residents.
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