- Several wildfires have forced evacuations in California, Colorado and New Mexico.
- The Stone Fire burning in Agua Dulce, California, grew to more than 2 square miles in a few hours' time.
- The 416 Fire in Colorado has burned into the San Juan National Forest and spurred more than 800 homes to be evacuated.
- Fourteen buildings have been destroyed in a New Mexico inferno, and hundreds of homes are threatened, officials said.
5 June, 2018
Fires in Colorado, New Mexico and California have forced evacuations amid dry conditions and severe drought.
A blaze burning Monday in Los Angeles County exploded in size, consuming more than 2 square miles in a few hours, according to InciWeb, a government incident information system. The fire had reportedly burned 20 acres around 1 p.m. local time and was estimated to be more than 200 acres an hour later.
The fast-moving blaze burning in the town of Agua Dulce, roughly 50 miles north of Los Angeles, prompted the Sheriff's Office to order evacuations. No deaths have been reported, but a firefighter suffered minor injuries, according to the Associated Press. The fire is now 30 percent contained.
Residents were told to flee areas near Anthony Road and the Sierra Highway due to the blaze, CBS Los Angeles reported. The county fire department requested aircraft to help fight the flames from the sky
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The blaze, dubbed the 416 Fire, was spotted north of Durango Friday morning and was being fueled by shifting winds onto the San Juan National Forest. More than 3 square miles were scorched by Tuesday morning. The fire is 10 percent contained.
In addition to the more than 800 homes evacuated, another 700 homes were told to be ready to leave on a moment's notice. About 500 residences are threatened in the Highway 550 corridor, InciWeb said
Highway 550 was partially reopened Sunday, according to CBS Denver, but the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad canceled all rides through June 10 due to the severe fire danger.
Several witnesses have indicated that the inferno was sparked by someone near the train tracks, but no official cause has been released, according to the Durango Herald.
Ute Park Fire, New Mexico
Residents have been ordered to evacuate an area of northern New Mexico as an aggressive wildfire burned more than 57 square miles of land.
The so-called Ute Park Fire destroyed 14 unoccupied structures at the Boy Scouts' Philmont Ranch overnight as it burned near Highway 64 in Ute Park. More than 200 buildings in Ute Park are threatened by the fire, according to KOAT.com.
However, there was some good news Monday: with the fire threat in steady decline, hundreds of residents in and around the town of Cimarron were cleared to return to their homes, officials said. Precipitation helped firefighters battle the blaze Sunday, and it is now 25 percent contained, according to InciWeb.
Several roads in the area were closed as the fire jumped over highways Friday and into the weekend.
Officials also said the fire danger forced the closure of the Santa Fe National Forest Friday morning, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. It will remain closed until conditions improve, the report added.
"Under current conditions, one abandoned campfire could cause a catastrophic wildfire, and we are not willing to take that chance with the natural and cultural resources under our protection and care," National Forest Supervisor James Melonas said in a statement to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Northern New Mexico has been in a prolonged period of extreme drought. Areas in and around Ute Park are currently in exceptional drought – the worst category – according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.