Evacuations ordered for 304 homes in Electra Lake area

Residents told to leave by 4 p.m.; 416 Fire expands to 7,000 acres

Wildfire update as of June 8, 2018 10:29am courtesy of Alex Semadeni, Durango Herald Staff Writer

A mandatory evacuation order was issued Friday morning for 304 residences on the east and west sides of U.S. Highway 550 from Electra Lake Drive north to Hermosa Cliffs Road and the north end of Two Dogs Trail subdivision.

Law enforcement began notifying residents door do door at 10 a.m. Friday. Residents are told to evacuate the area by 4 p.m. Friday.

An evacuation center and shelter is open 24 hours a day at Escalante Middle School, 141 Baker Lane, in Durango. Evacuated residents are asked to check in at the evacuation center to receive credentials for re-entry when conditions allow the evacuation order to be lifted.

Livestock can be evacuated to the La Plata County Fairgrounds at 2500 Main Avenue. The emergency call center at (970) 385-8700 can help coordinate pick-up of livestock. Small animals are being accepted at the La Plata County Humane Society, 1111 South Camino del Rio, Durango (970) 259-2847

U.S. Highway 550 southbound will remain open Friday until 6 p.m. to through traffic only with law enforcement pilot vehicles escorting convoys through the fire area.

Evac map

Earlier today

The 416 Fire grew by about 2,000 acres Thursday, its biggest growth spurt yet, bringing the 8-day-old fire to a total of 7,180 acres as of Friday morning.

The fire grew mostly on the south and southwest side in the Hermosa area, where an additional 500 homes were evacuated and 750 homes were given pre-evacuation notices Thursday morning.

Fire officials said the priority for Friday will be protect structures in the Hermosa area.

“The plan for today is to concentrate on structures,” said Brian Eaby, a spokesman for the Type II team battling the blaze. “We’re going to stay vigilant, and make sure there are no hot spots.”

Torching and crown runs were reported as the fire crossed the Jones Creek Trail and the Hermosa Creek Trail, but not the Hermosa Creek drainage. Crews will continue to monitor and battle the blaze near County Road 201 to make sure the fire doesn’t get out of hand in the area.

Hand crews spent Thursday constructing check lines to slow the fire, and worked with engines and air support to slow the fire from approaching structures. Crews underwent a successful burnout operation on the southwest side of the fire overnight that lasted until midnight, Eaby said. No structures had been lost as of Friday morning.

“We do not anticipate at this time losing any structures,” Eaby said.

Slurry was used in an attempt to slow the fire in an attempt to battle the blaze, after several days without it.

“This tactic proved effective at delaying spread to lower areas,” Eaby said.

Along with the fixed wing aircraft, four Type I helicopters, two Type II helicopters and two Type III helicopters will fight the fire from the air.

The increase in acreage is a result of both self-imposed burnouts and natural fire growth, Eaby said.

Aerial operations are creating a larger burnout area on the north side of the fire to serve as a barrier should the fire spread that direction from the southwest.

Crews on the east side of the fire are looking for hot spots and are mopping up the area.

“There was less activity on that side last night,” Eaby said.

A Type I federal firefighting team will assume command of the fire Saturday at 6 a.m. It will spend Friday “shadowing” the Type II team. This consists of attending meetings, observing hand crews and transferring plans.

“It’s a lot of giving them the information that they need to hit the ground running,” Eaby said.

The winds won’t be as strong as Thursday, but it will be breezy. Gusts are expected to be between 15-20 mph at the fire, and Durango is expecting a high of 84 degrees, said Michael Charnick with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

Fire potential is high today as a result of dry conditions mixed with low humidity, Eaby said.

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