Growing Colorado wildfire forces more evacuations

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The Summit County Sheriff lifted the mandatory evacuation order Thursday afternoon for people in about 1,300 homes near Silverthorne.

National Forest Service officials told residents of 163 more homes near the fire in the southwestern Colorado to be ready to leave Thursday - as well as residents who had been allowed to return to 180 homes on Wednesday.

The residences and businesses will remain under pre-evacuation orders, and residents will be subject to the limited opening hours of Highway 550, which was to close at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Residents needed to present ID to get back into their neighborhoods. The fire only burned about 100 acres (40.5 hectares) but came dangerously close to two densely populated housing developments. No homes have been lost.

What's been dubbed the 416 Fire started burning on June 1 north of Durango.

The San Juan National Forest makes up some 1.8 million acres across nine counties. Investigators have not said how many or what type of structures burned.

In southern Wyoming, firefighters battled a 17-square-mile (44 square kilometer) fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest that forced the evacuation of almost 400 homes in 10 small communities.

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The fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest began Sunday about 2 miles north of the Colorado border. Pre-evacuation orders are in place for the community of Foxborough.

Evacuations are handled by Coconino County, and more information about being prepared to evacuate can be found online at http://www.coconino.az.gov/207/Emergency-Management.

What caused the 416 Fire remains under investigation. More than 1,050 firefighters backed by air tankers and water-dropping helicopters had contained 15 percent of the blaze, said Cameron Eck, spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Incident firefighting team.

Fire officials held a news conference Thursday where they said the fire is only four miles away from the city of Durango, but they still feel they have it under control.

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.

Evacuees are being asked to check in at the Harmony School off Wyoming Highway 230.

"We don't anticipate there being a big push there in that northeastern corner", Knight said. A number of Forest Roads in the area are closed, including Forest Roads 530, 544,501, 512 WA and the Mountain Home Trail System.

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