Fire evacuations lifted in San Juan Co. Wednesday

Entire San Juan National Forest To Be Closed To Public

Erin Sirek with the Summit County Sheriff's Department Residents helps direct a resident with a dog as residents evacuate their homes from a wild fire approaching in the Wildernest neighbourhood near Silverthorne, Colo., on Tuesday.

About 50 firefighters were battling the blaze initially, but more were on the way, along with heavy air tankers and helicopters.

There are roughly 30 blazes burning across nine western states. "We've never gone into closure before", said Cam Hooley, acting public affairs officer for the San Juan National Forest near Durango.

Rangers have closed the entire San Juan National Forest in southern Colorado and Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico near Santa Fe, along with popular areas in the Tonto, Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino and Kaibab national forests in Arizona.

After doubling in size from Saturday to Sunday, the wildfire, 13 miles north of the small city of Durango, covered 20,131 acres and was just 15 percent contained, the service said.

"We have no reports of any structures lost at this time", said Julie McCluskie, a spokeswoman for the fire command.

County Fire Marshal Keith Clark says the idea is to reduce the likelihood of a human-caused fire.

No one has been hurt and no structures have burned down, Graham said.

Anyone caught violating the closure, SJNF said, could be punished with an individual fine of up to $5,000 or $10,000 for an organization, a six-month prison sentence, or both. "Multiple aircraft are actively dropping water and retardant at this time", county fire officials said.

Fire officials have been expecting a busy wildfire season after a dry winter, possibly the worst since 2012 and 2013, when the Black Forest Fire in El Paso County destroyed almost 500 homes, the most in state history.

The smoke from the wildfire has affected air quality, Graham said. If that materializes, it could provide favorable enough conditions for firefighters to make more progress on containment.

"We don't anticipate there being a big push there in that northeastern corner", Knight said. One of the people who made the day possible was the photographer, Alexi Hubbell, who managed to capture the smoke in the background of some of the couple's photos.

The fire covers more than 23,000 acres, according to the latest updates on federal wildfire database Inciweb.

The lightning-sparked fire has burned 170 acres (69 hectares) on the Mogollon Rim since it began Wednesday in Cococino County.

No buildings have been destroyed so far, but flames had crept to within a few hundred yards of homes.

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