Nation & World

New Mexico, Colorado wildfires force hundreds to evacuate

Two fires have consumed more than 17,000 acres

Smoke is seen from a fire in Ute Park, New Mexico, U.S., May 31, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media on June 2, 2018. Reed Weimer/www.reedweimermedia.com/via REUTERS
Smoke is seen from a fire in Ute Park, New Mexico, U.S., May 31, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media on June 2, 2018. Reed Weimer/www.reedweimermedia.com/via REUTERS

Wildfires stoked by low humidity and high temperatures raged on Saturday in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, threatening nearly 1,900 homes and forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate remote communities, fire officials said.

The fires, about 250 miles apart, have consumed more than 17,000 acres between them, officials said.

The larger of the two, the so-called Ute Park Fire in Colfax County, New Mexico, was zero percent contained after it doubled in size to more than 16,000 acres on Friday near Cimarron, a town of about 1,100 people northeast of Santa Fe, according to an alert on the New Mexico Fire Information website.

About 300 homes were threatened in Cimarron, where officials issued a mandatory evacuation on Friday.

“The Village of Cimarron is STILL safe,” Cimarron Village Councilor Laura Gonzales said on Facebook. “Continue to pray for our community.”

The cause of the fire, which began on Thursday, was unknown.

A second wildfire started on Friday about 10 miles north of Durango, Colorado, raging across 1,100 acres and forcing the evacuation of residents of about 500 homes near the southern border of the San Juan National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service said.

Officials of La Plata County, Colorado, said they opened evacuation centers after ordering residents out of about 825 homes and issuing pre-evacuation notices for residents of another 760 homes.

The Forest Service said the wildfire, known as 416 Fire, had cooled slightly by Saturday morning and that firefighters were focused on protecting neighborhoods and infrastructure.

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