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AZTEC — Montezuma County residents who were evacuated from their homes due to the East Canyon Fire are now allowed to return, according to the Montezuma County Colorado Facebook page.

Residents must have pink evacuee cards, which will be scanned as they reenter the area. These cards can be picked up at the Mancos, Colorado, fire station.

Non-residents will not be allowed into the areas and the residents will remain on pre-evacuation notice.

The announcement that the residents can return home comes after four days of strong winds and Red Flag Warnings. According to an update from the incident management team, the weather is supposed to be more favorable for fighting the fire June 18.

The temperatures June 18 are anticipated to be cooler in the fire zone — remaining less than 80 degrees — and the winds will not be as strong. The winds will be coming from the southwest and blowing at 10 to 15 miles per hour.

The incident management team states that a fire weather watch will go into effect on Friday, June 19. 

"Conditions can still support new fire starts, because vegetation is still critically dry due to ongoing drought," the update states.

An infrared flight flew over the fire on the night of June 17 and determined that it is 2,764 acres in size.

The northern edge of the fire has reduced to smoldering and creeping, according to the update. There is occasional tree torching on the northern side.

Meanwhile, hot shot crews are working to establish a fire line on the west side of the blaze and they are working their way south.

Crews on the eastern edge have been burning out fuels between the East Canyon Fire and Cherry Creek Road to establish a wide control line, the update states.

"At the southeast corner, firefighters are allowing the fire to gradually come down to a bulldozer line along the south edge that ties into the Cherry Creek Road on the east," according to the update. "Hotshot crews will begin building fireline by hand to tie the end of that dozer line to the control line on the west."

Progress made on Six Shooter Fire

Meanwhile, the Six Shooter Fire, which grew four acres and was 224 acres large as of the afternoon of June 18, is now at 25% containment, according to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

"Crews promptly responded to a slight break in the fire line and hold fire to less than 5 acres of growth in 24-hours," an update the tribe posted on June 18 stated.

The fire is burning just north of the state line near Bondad, Colorado, and is visible from U.S. Highway 550.

It has remained in the canyon and is not threatening any homes.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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