New wildfire erupts near Colorado ski resorts, houses

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"To try to mitigate fire when it does occur", explained Ranger Bill Jackson, with the U.S. Forest Service.

In many ways, the favorable outcome so far is due to skilled planning by fire control experts and tireless work by a regimental-sized team of experienced firefighters, Powell said. The fire started on Sunday, and officials were asking anyone who might have been in the area where it started for any information on the cause.

Accurate mapping of the fire size has proven hard due to weather conditions and the rapid fire growth; however, the fire is now estimated to be 2,300 acres or about 3.6 square miles. A pre-evacuation notice is in effect for the community of Foxborough.

Hot, dry, and windy conditions persisted throughout the afternoon.

While the two active fires were taken into consideration when opting to close the forest, other factors went into the decision, such as weather conditions, fire fighting resources available and fuel moisture level. The fire only burned about 100 acres (40.5 hectares) but came dangerously close to two densely populated housing developments. Containment has now grown to 15 percent, said Cameron Eck, spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team.

On Tuesday, InciWeb, a federal database of U.S. fires, showed the wildfire was 92% contained, and said Cimarron Canyon State Park will be closed through July 4. This year, almost 24,000 wildfires have burned more than 1.7 million acres across the country. On Sunday, efforts were focused on evacuation, public safety and fire assessment.

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La Plata County spokeswoman Megan Graham tells CPR News that the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railroad is also closed, and the Purgatory ski area is now within the evacuation area and closed to summer activities as well.

At this time the cause of the fire is unknown, but the origin of the fire is near Forest Road 501, and between Badger Creek and the North Fork of Pelton Creek. The State of Wyoming Type III helicopter is also on site.

The couple said they would like to encourage people to donate to the community foundation serving southwest Colorado.

Sweetie Marbury, the mayor of nearby Durango - about 10 miles from the fire - said there are plenty of things people can do in the area, including river rafting, cycling and fishing and learning about history at places like Mesa Verde and Chimney Rock National Monument.

Evacuees are being asked to check in at the Harmony School off Wyoming Highway 230. Any Forest Service lands around the lake will be off-limits to the public. State and county roads running through the forests remain open, but virtually all other uses have been barred.

The United States Forest Service was sharing updates on the fire to Twitter and online.