The 416 fire in southwestern Colorado grew to 22,131 acres and was 10 percent contained by June 11. The fire was almost 17,000 acres on the morning of June 10.
Over 2,100 homes have been evacuated due to the fire, according to local news reports, but no homes were damaged or lost as of Monday. Over 370 homes remain under pre-evacuation notice, The Denver Channel reported. Only 10 percent of the fire is contained.
The fire’s rapid spread in the San Juan National Forest has startled some people.
“It was pretty frightening to see the fire move that quickly,” said Shawn Bawden, public information officer for the 416 Fire, via The Durango Herald.
Firefighters were able to tame the blaze around structures in part due to the community’s fire awareness and efforts made in advance of the fire, according to a news release from 416 Fire.
The fire is burning 10 miles north of Durango. The cause of the fire has not been determined, but there is a persistent drought where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado connect, known as the Four Corners, according to Fox 31 and AP.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said incident commander Todd Pechota to residents at a community meeting, via the Herald.
Firefighters attacked the fire from both air and land. Among the aircraft used was a DC-10 Air Tanker, one of the largest kinds of air tankers in the United States. It dropped fire retardment chemicals on the blaze. On the ground one of the tactics included burnouts of flammable vegetation, according to the Herald.
Part of the reason for the fire’s exponential growth is that firefighters set blazes intentionally to control the fire’s growth, according to local Fire spokesman Brian Eady, via AP. The fire could move half to three-quarters of a mile an hour in wind gusts, according to 416 Fire.
The Burro Fire burns about 12 miles from the 416 Fire. The Incident Management Team handling the 416 has been given control of the Burro Fire, which is burning over 1,000 acres and is zero percent contained, the Herald reported.
Officials are closing the San Juan National Forest for the first time ever. The two fires prevent free movement within the forest, and authorities would like to prevent any more fires from starting due to human causes. They are concerned that environmental conditions are ripe for human action to lead to more fire issues, according to the Herald. The closure is expected to start Tuesday and be in place until the fire is under control.
Credit: Jasmine Mayberry Photography via Storyful