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Fire danger forces national forest in Colorado to close

14 June 2018

As of Monday night, the fire was 15 percent contained, the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team said.

"We have not lost any structures at this point", the agency tweeted Tuesday. Forest Spokesman Aaron Voos said the fire is making a run to the east. Power has been cut to the area in cooperation with Carbon Power and Light.

The 12-day-old conflagration, dubbed the 416 Fire, was by far the largest and most threatening of at least a half-dozen blazes raging across Colorado as the 2018 summer wildfire season heated up across the Western United States.

Gusting winds and stubborn hot, dry weather in southwestern Colorado helped stoke a largely uncontrolled wildfire that grew by almost a third to more than 22,000 acres (8,900 hectares) on Monday, with more than 2,000 homes under evacuation order.

Her home was the last one on the stretch of creek to be burned.

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The dry conditions and wind in the area were making the fire hard to fight, despite the roughly 70 people who were assigned to the fire, according to the Incident Information System.

Colorado's latest closure will also bar non-recreational uses, although ranchers, for example, who use some of the forest's over 2,800 square miles for grazing will be able to seek exemptions, San Juan National Forest spokeswoman Cam Hooley said.

Violating Stage 3 fire restrictions or going into a closed area carries a mandatory appearance in federal court, and is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.

No causes of the fires have been officially determined as of Monday, Hooley said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper commended crews for their fast response.

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"As soon as they raise the level (to extreme), then we'll go ahead and implement closures", Clelland said.

The situation was better in central Washington, where authorities lifted evacuation orders or warnings for about 50 residents as crews work to contain a wildfire burning grass and brush.

The smoke from the wildfire has affected air quality, Graham said.

According to a U.S. Forest Service press release, officials began instituting fire restrictions in San Juan National Forest on May 1. The pre-evacuation area, Mesa Cortina and Wildernest below Twenty Grand, contains about 1,160 residences. Waves of fire moving up to 2 miles per hour have raced up to the sides of homes before firefighters managed to put them out. The Ute Fire has burned 36,740 acres.

More burnouts are expected on the southwest perimeter of the fire near Junction Creek Road (County Road 204) in an effort to create a safe burn zone for the fire and eventually a containment line.

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A fire in California that burned nearly 200 acres has been contained, officials said.

Fire danger forces national forest in Colorado to close