Fire forces more evacuations Saturday afternoon

Colorado Wildfires

Fire officials have been expecting a busy wildfire season after a dry winter, possibly the worst since 2012 and 2013, when the Black Forest Fire in El Paso County destroyed almost 500 homes, the most in state history.

More than 800 crew members are fighting the fire, which is 10 percent contained.

The evacuations underway Saturday were along a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) section of a county road about 8 miles (12.9 kilometers) north of Durango.

Firefighters issued the evacuation of almost 500 homes in the town of Hermosa Thursday.as the 416 fire continues to burn in the nearby city of Durango.

No homes have burned but fire managers have said the flames could reach the small town of Hermosa Friday.

Deputies were going door to door, telling people to leave.

This fire, which was estimated to be about 40 acres by the evening, started about two miles southeast of the Bear Creek trailhead and two miles north of Burro Mountain in the La Plata Mountains. At 7 p.m. the San Juan National Forest was in the process of issuing closure orders for this fire. And the Natty fire, which covered 70 acres near Cañon City in south-central Colorado, had been 70 percent contained.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued an air quality advisory, warning of nhealthy levels of smoke observed throughout large parts of La Plata County on Sunday morning.

The area includes the communities of Durango and Hermosa and the Southern Ute Reservation. It comes amid a severe drought in the Four Corners area where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet.

Officials say the smoke should begin to lessen and move northeast later Saturday.

Friday's priority was protecting structures around Hermosa, Brian Eaby, a spokesman for a federal team in charge of the firefighting effort, told The Durango Herald. No homes have been destroyed.

Authorities said Friday the fire north of Durango had grown to about 11 square miles (29 square kilometers).

As many as 1,300 homes have been evacuated. Almost 700 firefighters are on scene.

In 2017, a near-record 10 million acres were burned in US wildfires, the National Interagency Coordination Center said.

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