416 Fire doubles in size, Purgatory/Durango Mountain Resort area homes evacuated
FARMINGTON – New evacuations are in place as the 416 Fire burning 13 miles north of Durango, Colorado, has roughly doubled in size.
The fire has burned 26 square miles as of Sunday, up from nearly 14 square miles Saturday, the Associated Press reported. The blaze has grown to 16,766 acres and is 10 percent contained as 813 firefighters battle the flames in hot, dry and windy weather.
Conditions are forecast to get even worse later in the day.
Fire spokesman Brian Eady says the change is the result of both natural fire growth and blazes firefighters intentionally set to control the fire's movement.
Residents of a total of 1,975 homes had been ordered to evacuate by Sunday morning. No homes have been lost.
The cause of the fire isn't known. No structures have burned.
The fire’s major growth yesterday happened on National Forest land. Weather conditions today, with winds that were expected to intensify this morning, will mean a more active fire with a potential for significant growth and increased smoke, officials said.
About 20 miles northwest of Durango, emergency personnel are sweeping trails to check for hikers near the Burro Fire. That blaze has reached 493 acres but is not threatening structures at this time.
New evacuations today
Law enforcement personnel started notifications at 9:30 a.m. in the affected area and residents received a CodeRED phone alert.
“A mandatory evacuation order was issued this morning for 675 residences in 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,” the morning announcement stated. “… Residents must evacuate the area as soon as possible.”
Shortly after 5 p.m. the number of homes evacuated in those areas was listed at 859.
Evacuation center remains open
The evacuation center and shelter at Escalante Middle School, 141 Baker Lane, in Durango, is open around the clock.
“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 release said. “Resident credentials are also available at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, 2500 Main Ave. in Durango.”
The county announced last week that La Plata County is working with the "Colorado Department of Local Affairs and recovery office to establish a Disaster Assistance Center for the citizens of La Plata County that have been impacted by the 416 Fire."
That center will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall. There will be more Disaster Assistance Center dates scheduled in the coming weeks, the release said.
People who need to evacuate livestock can go to the La Plata County Fairgrounds at 2500 Main Avenue. The emergency call center’s number is a 970-385-8700. The center can help coordinate the pick-up of livestock.
Small animals are being accepted at the La Plata County Humane Society, 1111 South Camino del Rio, Durango. Call 970-259-2847 for their assistance.
Call (970) 385-8700 with specific questions regarding #416Fire evacuations & road closures.
Traffic north of Purgatory has been affected. U.S. Highway 550 is "closed indefinitely to through traffic from the San Juan County (Colorado) line to Cometti Lane at mile marker 32," the county announced. "Evacuees will be escorted through the closure zone."
The blaze kept firefighters busy last night.
Firefighters in Division A above Hermosa encountered "burning material rolling downhill," according to a morning update by Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Incident Commander Todd Pechota, "However, crews mitigated this hazard and successfully protected structures in the area."
More precautionary brush "burnouts" are planned to safely decrease the fire's fuel sources.
"The fire has not crossed east of US 550, however, firefighters want to be prepared for any changes in fire behavior and location," the morning update said. "Crews will construct dozer and handline from the north end of the fire to Castle Rock and prepare this area for burnout operations."
Firefighters plan to keep the fire as high up on ridges as possible in that area.
Burro Fire grows
The Burro Fire, which was reported June 8 near mile marker 34 on Highway 145, is burning about 23 miles northwest of Durango and has scorched approximately 493 acres with 0 percent containment, the San Juan National Forest announced today.
"No structures are threatened at this time," forest officials said via Facebook. "The sweeps of the trails are going well with no issues and minimal contacts with anyone."
This story will be updated a new information becomes available.