National News

Colorado firefighters hope for break in hot, dry weather

Posted June 13, 2018 5:29 p.m. EDT

— Firefighters in Colorado still have several days of tough going against a fire that has burned more than 26,000 acres, officials said Wednesday.

The flames of the 416 Fire in the southwestern part of the state have reached the backyards of some homes, but so far no one has been injured and no structures have been lost, said incident commander Todd Pechota.

Asked whether the weather forecast looks favorable, Pechota answered quickly, "No. It doesn't."

"The folks on the ground have not caught a break since the day (June 1) this fire started," he said. "They've faced some really, really tough and challenging conditions, and they know they probably have another 48 hours of really tough work ahead of them."

The National Weather Service forecast calls for the possibility of showers on Friday night and Saturday. It was 94 degrees Wednesday with humidity levels below 20%.

The fire has burned an estimated 26,500 acres and is 15% contained, mostly on the eastern side of the blaze.

La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith said the progress means residents can return to a few of the neighborhoods in those affected areas.

"It's a constantly changing picture based on the fire behavior, and as it is safe to put those citizens back in, that is our goal," he said.

The 416 Fire is the largest of six fires burning in Colorado. Some of the more than 1,000 people fighting the fire, which is just north of Durango, have been there for weeks. Pechota said they have recently been able to start relieving those crews.

Firefighters have been focused on areas where there are people and property, and some days there is progress there but fire growth in other areas outpaces the places where containment improves, Pechota said.

Another fire, near Silverthorne -- about 65 miles west of Denver -- has prompted the evacuation of nearly 1,400 homes in Summit County.

The Buffalo Mountain wildfire is 91 acres, officials said.