Nimble Colorado wildfire prompts evacuation

/ Source: The Associated Press

Firefighters kept watch on the weather Tuesday as they lined up trucks and other equipment to defend a residential area from a wildfire that had forced the evacuation of 30 homes.

The 350-acre wildfire eight miles west of Glenwood Springs in western Colorado had roared to within a half-mile of a cluster of houses north of town Monday. There are hundreds more homes in the area 160 miles west of Denver.

A shelter was opened in a school in neighboring New Castle.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman David Boyd said crews were waiting to see if the wind would pick up Tuesday. Wind in the area typically blows west in the morning, which would drive the flames away from the homes, he said.

“They’re optimistic they’ll be able to catch it,” Boyd said of the blaze.

Three heavy air tankers, a single-engine plane and a helicopter dumped water and fire retardant on the flames Monday. At least 50 firefighters from departments throughout the area battled the blaze.

It was one of several fires likely started by lightning Sunday night.

One, about 200 miles west of Denver near Parachute, had been held to just 4 acres but was a concern because it was just 200 yards from homes and natural gas wells.

A third blaze exploded to 900 acres from 400 Monday in a remote area on a hillside above the community of Cameo, 45 miles west of Parachute.

The region is dry and temperatures have been in the upper 80s.

“As far as fire danger right now, we’re still expecting an average season, but the western part of the state is very dry,” said Larry Helmerick of the interagency Rocky Mountain Coordination Center.