Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Burro Fire burning near 416 Fire grows to almost 2,700 acres

Burro Fire burning near 416 Fire grows to almost 2,700 acres

A satellite image shows the 416 Wildfire burning west of Highway 550 and northwest of Hermosa, Colorado, U.S., June 10, 2018.

Several wildfires in Colorado have prompted thousands of home evacuations and the closing of a national forest, fire officials said.

San Juan National Forest Supervisor, Kara Chadwick, wants concerned citizens to know that instituting a forest closure is an extremely hard decision, and she is aware that the closure will affect a great many people, businesses, partner agencies, forest management activities, and the public.

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.

It's burned more than 27,000 acres and is only 15 percent contained.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

"The Burro fire is in steep, rugged terrain, and fire managers are scouting the area for opportunities to mitigate the spread".

The Ute Park Fire in New Mexico began May 31 and forced 2,200 people in the area to evacuate their homes within the first three days of the blaze.

"There's a decrease in visitor traffic of course", she said. The cause of the fire is unknown.

The photographer said the couple had to move the spot of the wedding because of the fire and chose to use the fire for a backdrop.

416 Fire evacuations lifted in San Juan Co. Wednesday
Burro Fire burning near 416 Fire grows to almost 2,700 acres

National forests and parks in Arizona and New Mexico have already been shut down as precautions. The area in and around the forest southwest of Santa Fe has seen a string of fires since April.

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

There also is an exception in the Sandia district for Foothills Trail No. 365, the Sandia Peak Tram and the Sandia Ranger District Administrative site, which includes the Tijeras Pueblo, trail, programs and facilities, forest officials said in a news release.

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

The so-called Badger Creek Fire, burning in the Medicine Bow National Forest, was listed at 150 acres (60 hectares) with zero containment on Monday morning, but had expanded by late afternoon, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said by telephone.

Calling it "an extremely hard decision", supervisor Kara Chadwick plans to sign an order closing all of the San Juan National Forest.

Until then, all 1.8 million acres, including the Piedra Area and the Weminuche and South San Juan wilderness areas, remain off limits.

A similarly sized fire a year ago took months to finish burning.

"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.

One of the main tourist attractions, a historic scenic railroad that takes riders through the majestic San Juan Mountains in the forest, has suspended its service and furloughed its seasonal workers.

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