Fire forces more evacuations Saturday afternoon

Torching and crown runs were reported as the fire crossed the Jones Creek Trail and the Hermosa Creek Trail, but not the Hermosa Creek drainage.

A mandatory evacuation order was issued on Sunday for approximately 675 residences, bringing the total number of homes under evacuation to nearly 2,000, La Plata County, Colorado, spokeswoman Megan Graham said.

Friday's priority was protecting structures around Hermosa, Brian Eaby, a spokesman for a federal team in charge of the firefighting effort, told The Durango Herald.

As many as 1,300 homes have been evacuated.

Large smoke columns visible Sunday from Durango came as fire behavior intensified near the Lower Hermosa Campground and burned conifer stands.

Firefighters will continue to patrol along USA 550 to mop up hot spots and keep the flames west of the highway and away from structures. Law enforcement officers began knocking on the doors of homes at 10 a.m. Friday on the east and west sides of USA 550 from Electra Lake Drive north to Hermosa Cliffs Road and to the north end of Two Dogs Trail. The closure is planned in order to protect natural resources and public safety, officials said.

Aircraft are monitoring the fire's west flank. Fire managers couldn't immediately say how many homes were included.

A total of 813 people are fighting the fire as of Sunday evening. Crews will continue to monitor and battle the blaze near County Road 201 to make sure the fire doesn't get out of hand in the area.

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The fire, which started on June 1, is still 10 percent contained.

A plane drops fire-retardant chemicals on the 416 Fire near Durango, Colorado, U.S.in this June 9, 2018 handout photo.

Firefighters have kept the Colorado fire to the west of Highway 550 and away from structures, county commissioners in La Plata County, Colorado, said in a Saturday Facebook post.

The Disaster Assistance Center at the La Plata County Fairgrounds in Durango will be open from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Monday.

No structures have been lost. The combination of weather and fuel conditions created the potential for significant fire intensity and growth.

The 416 Fire, burning 13 miles north of Durango, forced more evacuations on Saturday afternoon as well.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for most of Colorado on Saturday, signifying high fire danger.

A release from the La Plata County government last week said: "Wind and weather conditions on Saturday helped to limit the physical growth of the fire, with 3-5 miles per hour winds and gusts up to 10 miles per hour".

  • Sonia Alvarado