U.S.

Colorado Wildfire Nearly Doubles in Size, New 416 Fire Evacuations in Effect

Colorado fire 416, a growing wildfire in the southwestern part of the state, nearly doubled in size Sunday morning to more than 16,000 acres. The fire is 10 percent contained according to a statement from Laplata County officials and grew from around 8,600 acres to 16,786 from Saturday night into Sunday morning.

An additional 675 residences were evacuated Sunday morning. More than 1,500 homes have already been evacuated according to Reuters.

“The fire saw significant growth yesterday as expected,” the statement said. “Structure protection crews throughout the entire fire area are actively assessing and preparing homes.” So far, no structures have been damaged.

“Well the fire that we saw last night, I’ve never seen anything like that before,” one man told The Denver Channel. “The way it was coming down the hill.”

“I live right there so we were pretty freaked out last night.”

While the cause of the fire, which started on June 1, remains unknown, one man told The Durango Herald he first reported the fire after a coal-fired train passed by his house and he saw a “wisp of smoke.” Cres Fleming, another local resident who saw the fire early on said he started fighting it immediately.

“It was moving incredibly fast,” Fleming said. “I fired a stream of water and dragged a hose up the hill, which is hard for me because I’m not exactly young anymore.”

Fleming added “I’m a real supporter of the train. It pains me deeply to have this happen because I know it is going to hurt the railroad a lot. But I’m giving it to you like it is. I don’t want to shade anything, just state what I remember.”

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which operated the coal-fired train is not taking responsibility for the fire until an investigation is completed.

“We are working with the investigators to see what the cause is,” John Harper, the General Manager of the company told The Durango Herald. “We don’t know who or what started it yet. It’s not that we will never take responsibility, it’s just that right now, because we don’t know the facts, we’re not going to take initial responsibility until the investigation process is finished,” he said.

Investigator released a statement that said “because of the size of the fire, the cost of suppression and the impact on the community” there is no timeline for when information about the cause of the fire will be released.

Editor's Pick