Hundreds flee wildfires raging in U.S. southwest

Monday, June 11, 2012
By Paul Martin

TheExtinctionprotocol.com
June 11, 2012

COLORADO – Firefighters battled wildfires that spread quickly in parched forests in Colorado and New Mexico, forcing hundreds of people from their homes and the evacuation of wolves from a sanctuary. The Colorado fire, burning in a mountainous area about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, grew to 22 square miles within about a day of being reported and has destroyed or damaged 18 structures. Strong winds meanwhile, grounded aircraft fighting a 40-square-mile fire near the mountain community of Ruidoso in southern New Mexico. Crews were still working to build a fire line around the blaze, which started on Friday and has damaged or destroyed 36 structures. It was not immediately clear how many of the structures lost were homes. In Colorado, the fire sent up heavy smoke, obscuring the sun and creating an eerie, orange dusk in the middle of the day. The smell of smoke drifted into the Denver area and smoke from the fires spread as far away as parts of central Nebraska, western Kansas and Texas. The latest New Mexico fire is smaller than the Whitewater-Baldy fire – the largest in the state’s history – but more concerning to authorities because it started closer to homes, said Dan Ware, a spokesman for the New Mexico State Forestry Division. He said the number of Ruidoso evacuees was in the hundreds, but he did not have an exact figure. Elsewhere, firefighters were battling a wildfire that blackened six square miles in Wyoming’s Guernsey State Park and forced the evacuation of campers and visitors. Cooler weather was helping firefighters in their battle against two other wildfires in southern Utah. In Colorado, authorities sent nearly 1,800 evacuation notices to phone numbers. About 500 people had checked in at Red Cross shelters. Larimer County sheriff Justin Smith said. Authorities say it is the worst fire seen in Larimer County in about 25 years. It spread as fast as one and a half miles an hour on Saturday, skipping and jumping over some areas but burning intensely in trees in others. Flames were coming dangerously close to deputies who were telling some residents to evacuate, Sheriff Smith said. –Independent

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