Fire advances to north but still 3.5 miles from Purgatory

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FARMINGTON — The 416 Fire burning north of Durango, Colorado, grew by approximately 5,400 acres overnight and had scorched more than 47,000 acres by this afternoon, fire officials said.

The fire, which continues to burn on private land and in the San Juan National Forest west of U.S. Highway 550, was 37 percent contained this afternoon, according to an update posted at 2 p.m. by the Portland National Incident Management Organization (NIMO), the agency that is managing the fire. The update described weather conditions as critical and said fuels are ideal for significant fire growth.

MORE: Winds fan 416 Fire near Durango; 4,129 more acres charred

In his morning video operation briefing, Alex Robertson, the NIMO operations section chief, said today most of the fire's growth on Friday took place on the north side, aided by strong southwest winds. He said the fire's west perimeter has remained largely the same for the last two weeks when significant rain fell on the Four Corners area.

Robertson said the fire's leading northern edge is still approximately 3.5 miles from the perimeter of Purgatory Resort, and firefighters remain committed to keeping the blaze from reaching the ski area.

The blaze is largely contained on its southern and eastern sides, especially along the U.S. Highway 550 corridor, which Robertson described as quiet in today's briefing. He said firefighting efforts in that region consist mostly of cleanup efforts.

MORE: New growth in Durango-area blaze as high temps settle in

A Red Flag Warning was issued for the area today, with temperatures expected to be in the low 80s and west winds expected to gust up to 25 mph. The forecast called for a dry cold front to arrive late in the day, with calmer winds coming from the north.

The temperature is expected to begin to climb again on Sunday, though winds are should decrease beginning on Monday and the relative humidity should begin to climb.

A total of 359 personnel were battling the 416 Fire this afternoon. The cause of the fire remains unknown, and no injuries have been reported.

The Burro Fire burning several miles west-northwest of the 416 Fire also continues to grow. It was reported at 3,869 acres this afternoon with 40 percent containment, having grown by 166 acres overnight.

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