- Associated Press - Friday, June 15, 2018

DENVER (AP) - The Latest on wildfires burning in the West: (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

The U.S. Forest Service has closed about 100 square miles (nearly 260 square kilometers) of public land straddling the Colorado-Wyoming state line because of a wildfire.

About 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) of the Arapahoe-Roosevelt National Forest in northern Colorado was closed Friday. A day earlier, about 75 square miles (194 square kilometers) of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in southern Wyoming was closed.

The wildfire has burned about 23 square miles (60 square kilometers) in Wyoming, destroying a home and two outbuildings. About 400 residences have been evacuated in 10 small communities.

Crews haven’t been able to cut fire lines around any significant distance of the perimeter. Fire managers were encouraged Friday because the flames had moved from dense forests full of beetle-killed trees into areas with mostly grass and brush that burn with less intensity.


11:20 a.m.

Firefighters have yet to gain any containment on a wildfire in southern Wyoming, but they find some encouragement with the fire moving into less dense fuels.

The fire just north of the Colorado state line has burned about 23 square miles (60 square kilometers) and forced the evacuation of about 400 residences in 10 small communities. The fire has destroyed one home and two outbuildings since it began Sunday.

Fire spokesman Chris Barth says the main part of the fire was moving from dense beetle-killed timber to areas with mostly grass and brush. Barth says that’s expected to reduce the fire’s intensity but he noted that the terrain is still rugged and difficult for firefighters to access.

The chance of rain in the area was expected to increase this weekend.


11:05 a.m.

Firefighters have incorporated another southwestern Colorado wildfire into their efforts to contain a larger burn north of the city of Durango.

Fire spokesman Donnie Davis said Friday more than 170 personnel have been assigned to a fire in the San Juan National Forest that has burned 5 square miles (14 square kilometers) of rugged terrain. No structures are threatened.

The fire is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of a larger blaze that closed the San Juan National Forest this week and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes.

More than 1,100 personnel backed by water-dropping helicopters have contained nearly 20 percent of the larger blaze.

Causes for both fires remain under investigation.


10:10 a.m.

Hundreds of residents forced to leave their homes by a southwest Colorado wildfire have been allowed to return.

Megan Graham of the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that residents of nearly 1,000 homes remain under evacuation orders, down from a high of 2,200.

Graham says those allowed to return have been told to be ready to leave again due to changing conditions of the fire about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Durango.

The fire began June 1 in an area of extreme drought affecting the Four Corners region of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. It has blackened 51 square miles (132 square kilometers) of terrain but no structures have been destroyed.

Officials say expected weekend rains could provoke flash flooding in burn scars.

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