Colorado wildfire expected to reach homes after evacuations

DURANGO, Colo. – A wildfire in southwestern Colorado that has forced hundreds of evacuations is expected to reach homes by Friday, according to fire managers.

The week-old fire has blackened nearly 8 square miles (20.7 square kilometers) about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Durango and is encroaching on the town of Hermosa, where residents of nearly 500 homes were told to leave Thursday.

"That’s pretty much where we’re putting everyone, most of the crews," Vickie Russo, a spokeswoman for the team managing the blaze, told The Durango Herald . "The fire is just getting too close for comfort to those structures and the residences."

Firefighters plan to use pre-positioned sprinkler systems, fire hoses and fire engines, as well as aircraft, to protect the homes.

They also have scouted out places to build fire lines to limit the fire’s growth.

In total, more than 1,000 homes have been evacuated, and residents of more than 1,500 homes are on pre-evacuation notice. No structures have burned.

"It is better to give people a window for evacuations instead of, ‘You need to leave right now because the fire is in your backyard,’" Russo said.

The fire was 10 percent contained Thursday, and firefighters have had to deal with hot and dry weather, gusty winds and some inaccessible terrain.

"We’re still in those severe fire conditions right now and that’s what we’re up against. Conditions are not in our favor," Russo said.

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Information from: Durango Herald, http://www.durangoherald.com

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