Hundreds of houses evacuated after wildfires near Colorado ski resort

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 6:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 9:27pm

Evacuation orders for hundreds of homes were expected to remain in place through midday on Thursday as a wildfire rages near Colorado’s Breckenridge Ski Resort.

The fire, one of several burning across the West, was reported by a mountain biker late on Wednesday morning and is consuming beetle-killed trees in the White River National Forest about 6.4km from the resort. It had scorched about 32.4 hectares and forced the evacuation of 463 homes that are about a mile north of the resort.

All of the homes on Peak 7 were evacuated, and nearby residents have been warned that they might have to leave, according to the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District. The base of the resort, which includes hotels, restaurants and businesses, was not evacuated.

Eight Forest Service firefighters parachuted in, and two heavy tankers and a helicopter dropped slurry and water on the fire throughout the day.

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The fire has not burned any structures and died down as temperatures cooled on Wednesday night. Evacuation orders were expected to remain in place until midday on Thursday.

The fire was among several dotting the West on Wednesday, including one that was burning near a nuclear facility in Washington state.

That grass and brush fire, which started on Sunday and was burning in part on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, is 85 per cent contained and is not threatening any of the site’s nuclear facilities. It has burned about 93.2 sq km in Yakima and Benton counties.

In northern Nevada on Wednesday, fire officials advised residents to leave their homes with their animals ahead of one of several blazes sweeping across the hot, dry rangeland.

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Palomino Valley residents were urged to relocate to an equestrian events centre in Reno, Truckee Meadows fire spokeswoman Erin Holland said, adding that 100 animals were sheltered.

The advisory followed a National Weather Service warning for high fire danger in western Nevada and in California’s Alpine and Mono counties.

Earlier, firefighters battled flames that neared about a dozen homes late Tuesday and early on Wednesday near Palomino Valley but burned only one shed, Truckee Meadows Fire Chief Charles Moore said.

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“We’re stretched thin because we have so many fires going on all at once,” he said. “Wildfire is a natural disaster that happens with regularity. You can almost bank on it happening every summer.”

In Arizona, the summer-retreat community of Summerhaven atop Mount Lemmon remained evacuated after a wildfire charred more than 93.2 sq km in mountains and foothills overlooking Tucson. The wildfire started Friday, and its cause remains under investigation.

Meanwhile in southeast Wyoming, a wildfire forced the evacuation of a campground and 25 cabins in the area of Keystone about 16km north of the Colorado line.