Colorado wildfire doubles in size, thousands evacuated

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Evacuated residents are asked to check in at the evacuation center to receive credentials for re-entry when conditions allow the evacuation order to be lifted. The fire's southwest flank has now moved into North Buck Creek and the Buck Creek drainage.

The total number of homes evacuated during the fires burning in southwest Colorado has reached more than 1,300 residential structures, Graham said, and the fire had burnt more than 8,691 acres, according to the last aerial survey, early Saturday, she said.

Large smoke columns visible Sunday from Durango came as fire behavior intensified near the Lower Hermosa Campground and burned conifer stands.

The fire is about a quarter of a mile from the nearest house, and fire officials said structure protection is in place.

The large wildfire had prompted the evacuation of an additional 859 homes in the Purgatory/Durango Mountain Resort, Lake Purgatory, Silver Pick Lodge, Cascade Village, Mill Creek and all residences on both sides of U.S. Highway between mile markers 46.5 to 53.1.

No structures have been lost.

Along with the fixed wing aircraft, four Type I helicopters, two Type II helicopters and two Type III helicopters will fight the fire from the air.

The fire remains 10 percent contained with 813 personnel on site.

Low humidity and high winds have left firefighters bracing for the fire to spread and the weather was expected to be dry and windy on Sunday. Officials are preparing to battle the blaze for a long time, said Shawn Bawden, a fire information officer.

A plane drops fire-retardant chemicals on the 416 Fire near Durango, Colorado, U.S.in this June 9, 2018 handout photo. A second evacuation check-in site is open from 9 a.m.to 4 p.m. daily at the Silverton Town Hall, 1360 Greene Street in Silverton.

Officials say the cause of the wildfire, which started June 1 in the San Juan National Forest, has not been determined. The combination of weather and fuel conditions created the potential for significant fire intensity and growth.

Around 1,625 people have been evacuated from their homes since the blaze began, and 304 more homes were reportedly abandoned yesterday.

Health officials have issued an air quality alert in southwestern Colorado because of heavy smoke from a wildfire.

Highway 550 southbound will remain open Friday until 6 p.m.to through traffic only with law enforcement pilot vehicles escorting convoys through the fire area.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for most of Colorado on Saturday, signifying high fire danger.

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