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More evacuations ordered as Colorado wildfire expands

DURANGO, Colo. — More people were ordered to get out of the path of a growing wildfire in southwestern Colorado on Saturday as ground crews contended with hot, dry and windy weather.

Deputies went door-to-door along a 2-mile stretch of county road north of Durango telling residents to leave, but fire managers couldn’t immediately say how many homes were included.

The area is about 8 miles north of Durango.

The Durango Herald reported more than 1,600 other homes have already been evacuated. Authorities said no homes had been damaged or destroyed so far.

The fire has burned nearly 14 square miles. Firefighters had built containment lines on about 10 percent of the perimeter.

More than 680 firefighters and several aircraft were on scene, and a Type 1 incident command team — assigned to the largest fires — took charge Saturday morning.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for most of Colorado on Saturday, including Durango, signifying high fire danger because of gusty winds and low humidity. Temperatures were in the high 80s in Durango by the afternoon.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also issued an air quality alert because of heavy smoke in the area.

The blaze started June 1 in the San Juan National Forest but the cause has not been determined. It comes amid a severe drought in the Four Corners area where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet.

U.S. Highway 550 north of Durango was periodically closed Saturday to accommodate the evacuations and because of heavy firefighter activity.

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