Ward Gulch Fire near Rifle: Evacuation orders lifted

RIFLE, Colo. - Residents near a 485-acre wildfire burning north of Rifle are back home.

Evacuation orders for the Ward Gulch Fire were lifted late Sunday after lower temperatures and a little moisture helped slow it down.

Fire spokesman Pat Thrasher said the fire was started Friday by a smoldering lightning strike three miles north of Rifle Gap Reservoir. The fire was initially reported at 11:30 a.m. when it was a  5-acre grass fire.

It also forced the evacuation of campers at Rifle Falls State Park, Rifle Mountain Park and the nearby White River National Forest.

The danger isn't over yet though.

The National Weather Service says gusty winds and very warm weather will increase the fire danger in parts of western Colorado by midweek.

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