By  | | The Denver Post

Wildfires burn across more than 38,200 acres in Colorado and New Mexico

Federal government-backed firefighters tried to suppress the wildfires and relied on rain but the flames burned mostly out of control


A Òvery large air tanker takes a pass over the #416Fire.
Photo courtesy of La Plata County

By  | | The Denver Post

The dry conditions, heat and wind in the Rocky Mountain region fueled three wildfires burning on more than 38,200 acres Sunday evening.

Light rain Sunday helped firefighters gain partial control.

North of Durango in La Plata County, a 2,255-acre 416 fire in the San Juan National Forest forced evacuation of hundreds of homes and “is going to burn into the Hermosa Wilderness Area,”  federal inter-agency team spokeswoman Vickie Russo said.

U.S. Forest Service officials told firefighting crews that “this is going to be ‘full suppression,’ ” Russo said.

Firefighters Sunday night called the fire 10 percent contained.

Air tankers over the weekend dropped red fire-retardant slurry on land near the flames — ten miles north of Durango along U.S. Highway 550. Parts of the highway were closed. On Sunday, six helicopters lugging buckets dumped water on flames, Russo said.

Just south of Colorado in northern New Mexico, the 36,083-acre Ute Park fire produced huge clouds of smoke that wafted north into the San Luis Valley, mixing with a plume moving east from the wildfire north of Durango.

Rain helped, said Linda Kearns, spokeswoman for the federal team battling that blaze.

“It is not coming up toward Colorado. It is still south of Raton,” Kearns said.