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416 Fire in southwest Colorado forces evacuations, burns 1,100 acres amid 'exceptional drought'

Type II incident management team ordered
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Posted at 3:28 PM, Jun 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-01 22:39:32-04

LA PLATA COUNTY, Colo. – A fast-burning wildfire in southwest Colorado has prompted the evacuation of several hundred homes north of Durango and had already burned 1,100 acres as of 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The 416 Fire was first reported around 10 a.m. Friday on the west side of U.S. Highway 550 about 10 miles north of Durango. But as it spread rapidly to the northwest, it grew to 100 acres by noon and at least 200 acres by 2 p.m., La Plata County officials said.

Firefighters from local agencies, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service are at the scene battling flames. A Type II incident management team was ordered to the fire Friday afternoon.

The evacuation area extends from the Rockwood subdivision south to Baker’s Bridge on the east side of U.S. 550 and west of the Animas River. The Glacier Club, Tamarron, and Electra Lake areas have also been forced to evacuate. In total, about 825 homes have been affected by the mandatory evacuations, officials said.

Pre-evacuation notices have also been issued for the Meadow View Drive area, including Purgatory and Durango Mountain Resort, and Cascade Village. Also under pre-evacuation orders are Red Tail Mountain Ranch, Celedon and the Elkhorn Mountain subdivisions. The total number of homes affected by potential evacuations amounts to 760 homes, according to La Plata County officials. 

At least two evacuation centers had opened for residents in need: One at Escalante Middle School, 141 Baker Lake in Durango; the other at the Silverton Visitor Center, 414 Greene St. in Silverton. Residents were asked to check in at either of those locations to receive credentials that will be necessary if they want to be allowed back in to their homes after the fire is contained. 

Livestock can be evacuated to the La Plata County Fairgrounds at 2500 Main Avenue, officials said Friday. An emergency call center at (970) 385-8700 can help coordinate livestock pick-up. Small animals were also accepted at the La Plata County Humane Society, 1111 South Camino del Rio in Durango. The number to call is (970) 259-2847.

A CodeRED notification has been sent out to affected residents, and sheriff’s deputies have also been going door-to-door to warn of the fire and evacuations.

Highway 550 also is closed between mile markers 34 and 48, and will remain closed overnight, an official with La Planta County said Friday evening. County Road 250 is closed to north and southbound traffic. Area residents who want to sign up for emergency notifications and evacuation notices can do so by clicking here.

Just before 7 p.m., La Plata County Manager Joanne Spina declared a state of local emergency due to the 416 Fire.

All of La Plata County is experiencing “exceptional drought” – the most severe category handed out by the U.S. Drought Monitor and is eligible for federal assistance because of the classification.

This is a developing story and will be updated.