Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Evacuation order lifted for residents affected by Buffalo Fire in Summit County

Evacuation order lifted for residents affected by Buffalo Fire in Summit County

Gusting winds and stubborn hot, dry weather in southwestern Colorado helped stoke a largely uncontrolled wildfire that grew by almost a third to more than 22,000 acres (8,900 hectares) on Monday, with more than 2,000 homes under evacuation order.

By mid-afternoon, it had crossed Wyoming Highway 230 between Wold Tract and Mountain Home. County and state roads and US highways that cross Forest Service lands will not be affected by this order.

More burnouts are expected on the southwest perimeter of the fire near Junction Creek Road (County Road 204) in an effort to create a safe burn zone for the fire and eventually a containment line.

"Make no bones about it, our number one priority is the safety of incident responders", said Todd Pechota, the incident commander.

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.

About 140 firefighters and other personnel are assigned to the blaze.

They intend to fully suppress the fire by engaging in locations with the highest probability of success.

The growth of the fire may be due to burnout operations, which accounted for the majority of the fire's growth Wednesday. This includes Woods Landing, New Jelm, and Jelm.

Summit Fire and U.S. Forest Service crews are responding to the fire. Its cause is not yet known. The operational plan will be to continue to focus on public and firefighter safety, evacuations, assessments, and structure protection. It is estimated to be about 100 acres.

The closure will remain in effect "until the forest receives sufficient moisture to improve conditions", according to a statement. The date is not a set-in-stone time for when the fire will be completely contained.

The federal government spent a record $2.9 billion to suppress last year's fires, Forest Service officials said.

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. The State of Wyoming Type III helicopter is also on site. Multiple communities and private property in-holdings are within a five mile radius of the fire. Those residents were still under a pre-evacuation order just in case they needed to leave again.

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.

An overnight shelter has been opened for evacuees at Frisco Elementary School. "As we have proved time and time again, Coloradans are resilient", he said.

Roads in the area of the evacuation zone have been shut down.

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