A blaze is burning near the Grand Canyon, while firefighters in neighboring states are taking aim at wildfires that have destroyed homes or forced people to evacuate. Here’s a look at fires in the U.S. West:
Wind gusts and low humidity have refueled a 2-week-old wildfire near the highway that allows tourists to get to the lodge, restaurant and main campgrounds on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, officials said.
“We are utilizing existing roads and natural features where ever possible to halt the progress of the fire into sensitive areas,” incident commander Alan Sinclair said in a statement Friday night. “However, firefighter and public safety remain our top priority.”
State Route Highway 67 and the North Rim remain open, but the fire has closed access roads to two park viewpoints. A plume of smoke could be seen from the more popular South Rim amid the busy summer season.
About 500 personnel are fighting the fire, which has burned nearly 5 square miles of aspen and pine since lightning ignited it June 29.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has declared a state of emergency in response to a wildfire in Otero County.
Friday afternoon’s declaration will enable the county to order and pay for additional resources needed to fight the wildfire in the southern New Mexico mountain village of Timberon.
The fire has destroyed 67 structures and numerous vehicles after charring about 260 acres. Homes account for at least 30 of the destroyed or damaged structures.
Fire incident commanders say approximately 30 vehicles have been destroyed or damaged, including 14 recreational vehicles.
Crews are constructing and improving fire lines and removing debris and dangerous trees in the burn area.
The fire started Wednesday in wooded, hilly terrain and its cause is under investigation.
A wildfire chased residents from 140 homes in a tiny Colorado town this week, and they may not be allowed back for another week or more.
A number of the evacuated homes in Coaldale, about 150 miles southwest of Denver, are near where firefighters are working to contain the 25-square-mile blaze. They could be slowed by an increase in fire activity.
Residents have been told it could be a week or two before they can return, said Kale Casey of the U.S. Forest Service. Many were briefly allowed back to check on their homes Friday.
People began evacuating Sunday after the fire flared up from a lightning strike several days earlier in the rugged Sangre de Cristo Wilderness.
Crews have contained other fires in the state, including one that destroyed eight homes in the mountains near Boulder. All evacuees were allowed to return late Thursday.