Colorado officials announced 165 new pre-evacuations as firefighters continue to fight the 416 Fire outside of Durango, Colorado. The wildfire has spread to over 27,000 acres, with containment at only 15 percent.
The 416 Fire initially started on June 1 about 10 miles north of Durango, AccuWeather reported. The fire has expanded to 27,420 acres as of Wednesday morning.
Officials announced that 163 homes and two businesses have been given pre-evacuation notices along the west side of County Road 203 from Trimble Lane south to the intersection with U.S. Highway 550. Highway 550 will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday. The northern closure point moved to mile marker 49.5, just north of Purgatory, and the southern closure point settled at mile marker 32, authorities said. Meanwhile, Country Road 203 is closed north of Trimble Lane.
Two areas of evacuated homes were opened for re-entry on Wednesday, La Plata County said. The homes remain under pre-evacuation notices.
La Plata County revealed that 1,398 homes had been evacuated due to the wildfire. More than 1,000 firefighters have been working to contain the wildfire at San Juan National Forest. Fire officials noted that no structures have been burned, and no one has been injured by the fire, The Denver Post reported.
“There was some growth on the northwest side, but the fire is still in areas of thinner fuel, so it is not moving quickly at this time,” officials said, according to AccuWeather. “The fire will likely gain intensity as it moves into denser fuel.”
A potential approaching lightning storm is keeping firefighters on their toes as it could bring new fires and strong winds that could spread the 416 Fire into areas north of Durango. Shawn Dawden, spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team, called the forecast “not good news” in an interview with The Denver Post.
Dawden said that a red flag watch has been put in place as the storm nears the southwest mountains. The lightning storm is predicted to bring dangerous cloud-to-mountain lightning strikes and winds reaching 40 miles per hour.
“Weather is going to continue to play a role over the next few days, continue to influence some of our decisions and fire behavior,” Jamie Knight, a 416 Fire spokeswoman, told the newspaper. An announcement Wednesday from the Incident Information System said, “Firefighters will work to improve wirelines in this area to remain ahead of the power curve in advance of this expected weather event.”