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The Latest: New Colorado Wildfire Forcing Evacuations

Jun 12, 2018

DENVER (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning in Colorado (all times local):

Credit www.freedigitalphotos.net. Image: luigi diamanti

1:35 p.m.

A new wildfire burning in Colorado's mountains is forcing nearby residents to evacuate.

The fire was reported Tuesday near the town of Silverthorne in Summit County, which is home to several ski resorts.

It's not clear how many homes are being evacuated from two affected housing developments.

Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons estimated to KUSA-TV that over 1,000 people could be affected by the evacuations. He says the developments are densely populated, serving as homes for area workers, rather than having sprawling vacation homes.

Firefighters are hoping to stop the fire early and have asked for air support to help.

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8:40 a.m.

Colorado's San Juan National Forest has been closed to the public to try to prevent another catastrophic wildfire in the extremely dry U.S. Southwest.

The closure started Tuesday for the over 2,800 square miles (7,252 square kilometers) forest.

Hundreds of miles of forest trails and thousands of miles of back roads are off limits to hikers, bikers, horseback riders and campers. 

Some forest land in Arizona and New Mexico has also been closed because of the fire danger. It's the first full closure of a Colorado national forest since 2002.

The move comes as the residents of over 2,000 homes have been forced to evacuate because of a fire that started in the forest that has burned about 31 square miles (about 80 square kilometers).

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12 a.m.

Extreme fire danger is shutting southwestern Colorado's San Juan National Forest, a rare tactic also being used in neighboring states as the U.S. Southwest struggles with severe drought.

Forest managers plan to close hundreds of miles of trails and thousands of miles of back roads to hikers, bikers, horseback riders and campers as soon as Tuesday. They want to prevent the possibility of an abandoned campfire or any other spark from starting a wildfire that could quickly spread in bone-dry vegetation and be pushed by hot, windy weather.

It's the first full closure of a national forest in Colorado since 2002 — another very dry year — and will remain in place until sufficient precipitation eases the fire danger.

The move comes as the residents of over 2,000 homes have been forced to evacuate because of a fire that started June 1 in the forest and has spread to about 35 square miles (91 square kilometers).