Blaze north of Durango nearly 7,200 acres in size

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FARMINGTON — The 416 Fire north of Durango, Colorado, has grown by nearly 2,000 acres since Thursday as a new team is set to take command of the fire operations.

The fire, which started on June 1, grew from 5,103 acres as of Thursday morning to 7,180 acres Friday morning, according to the according to the Rocky Mountain Type 2 Blue Team, the agency in command of the response to the blaze. It remains 10 percent contained.

U.S. Highway 550 was closed this afternoon north of Durango due to increased fire activity, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation press release. The highway is projected to reopen Saturday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. CDOT advised motorists fire or evacuation activity could close the highway at any time.

Travelers are asked to consider using an alternate route through Lizard Head Pass on Colo. Highway 145 instead of U.S. Highway 550.

The Rocky Mountain Type 2 Blue Team attributed the increase in acreage to natural fire growth and burnout activity to help slow the fire and prevent it from spreading toward structures. No structures have been lost.

There were 674 firefighters as of Wednesday battling the blaze about 10 miles north of Durango in the Hermosa area.

Crews on the north side of the fire were creating a larger burnout area to help serve as a barrier if the fire spreads in that direction.

The New Mexico Environment Department and Department of Health issued a smoke advisory this afternoon for Farmington and nearby communities because of the fire.

The blaze is expected to generate smoke that will end up settling over the Animas Valley early Saturday around 3 or 4 a.m., according to the press release.

Residents of Farmington and Aztec are advised to close their windows overnight and keep them closed until late Saturday morning when visibility is expected to improve to about 5 miles or the smoke lifts.

A monitor is being deployed in Aztec to better assess the particulate matter levels.

Residents who do not have an air conditioner or find conditions too warm to stay inside with the windows closed are advised to seek shelter elsewhere, perhaps with a friend or at a relative's house.

New mandatory evacuation order

A mandatory evacuation order was issued Friday morning for 304 residences on the west and east side of U.S. Highway 550 from Electra Lake Drive north to Hermosa Cliffs Road and the north end of Two Dogs Trail, according to the La Plata County government Facebook page.

Law enforcement officials started notifying residents around 10 a.m. and were notified by a CodeRED message. Residents were ordered to leave by 4 p.m.

A pre-evacuation notice was issued for 751 residences Thursday morning for Albrecht/Cometti/Mead Lane south to Trimble Lane west from the Animas River.

The area includes Hidden Meadows, Falls Creek Ranch, Durango Regency and Dalton Ranch north of Trimble Lane.

RELATED: Durango blaze grows; four new fires being battled

The fire has prompted the Purgatory ski area to temporarily suspend operations for Saturday and Sunday, according to a company press release. The future operating schedule will be announced.

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has suspended operation of its coal-fired steam train steam passenger service since June 2.

Wind in the area is predicted to be calmer today than in previous days, but the potential for fire weather is still high as temperatures are set to reach the high 70s and low 80s.

Fixed-wing aircraft are being used, along with a total of eight helicopters, to combat the flames.

Plans are set for the Rocky Mountain Type 2 Blue Team to transfer command of fire operations to the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Type 1 Team. The transfer is scheduled to take place at 6 a.m. Saturday.

 

Animal boarding, camping available in Farmington

Residents who need to board horses or cows that are being evacuated due to fires in Colorado can take them to the Browning Ranch on Browning Parkway in Farmington.

Chris Maedche can be contacted at 505-681-3595 for more information.

The McGee Park RV Park at 41 County Road 5568 has camper spots open for residents displaced by the Colorado fires, according to a San Juan County Office of Emergency Management Facebook post. 

The fee is $15 with no reservations needed.

The McGee Park Office can be contacted for more information at 505-325-5414.

MORE on 416 FIRE:

416 Fire crews continue to battle blaze near Durango, 550 closed by smoke

416 Fire up to 2,250 acres as highway reopens temporarily

416 Fire burning north of Durango nearly 2,000 acres; more homes evacuated

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