Fire north of Durango continues westward expansion

Colorado wildfire plane

It's not near the tourist-heavy areas in the town known for its proximity to Arches and Canyonlands national parks.

"Under current conditions, one abandoned campfire or spark could cause a catastrophic wildfire, and we are not willing to take that chance with the natural and cultural resources under our protection and care, or with human life and property", said Richard Bustamante, SJNF forest fire staff officer.

After doubling in size from Saturday to Sunday, the wildfire, 13 miles north of the small city of Durango, covered 20,131 acres and was just 15 percent contained, the service said.

Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands officials said Monday that the shutdown - starting as early as Friday - will remain in effect pending a significant amount of moisture and subsequent decreases in fire danger.

"The fire dangers are only increasing in critically dry conditions". The pre-evacuation area, Mesa Cortina and Wildernest below Twenty Grand, contains about 1,160 residences.

The Forest Service also advised all dispersed campers near the fire area relocate to other areas of the forest. The fire started on Sunday, and officials were asking anyone who might have been in the area where it started for any information on the cause.

Woods Landing, New Jelm and Jelm were all ordered to evacuate due to the fire, which reached 2,300 acres of burn activity Tuesday.

DURANGO, CO -The San Juan National Forest (SJNF) is planning to implement Forest-wide Stage 3 fire closure this week, which will prohibit most entry into the forest.

"We realize this is a really hard thing for the area", said Cam Hooley, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.

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Full forest closures are not common and the Forest Service stresses they're only done as a last resort.

The fire is one of several blazes burning in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming amid dry conditions and severe drought.

The closure order will prohibit entry into the San Juan National Forest, including entry by the general public, most administrative entry by Forest Service employees, and most uses authorized under Forest Service permits and contracts.

"We recognize that this is hard for the local businesses and the local economy and just ask that people just be understanding and patient", Hooley said. No homes have yet been lost in the fire, the Associated Press reports, but thousands have been forced to evacuate.

CBS4)- Firefighters say there was no new growth on the Buffalo Fire overnight.

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.

"We are resilient in Durango".

"We don't anticipate there being a big push there in that northeastern corner", Knight said.

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