Monday, December 11, 2017

Colorado, New Mexico wildfires burn out of control

BELLVUE, Colo. — A massive wildfire in the Colorado foothills burned nearly 120 structures and sent smoke as far as neighboring Nebraska and Texas on Monday as crews in New Mexico also ramped up efforts against a large out-of-control blaze.

The northern Colorado fire has spread across nearly 60 square miles and blackened subdivision properties about 15 miles west of Fort Collins. It was first reported Saturday and by Monday, officials estimated 118 structures — up from 18 the previous day — had been damaged or destroyed.

On Monday authorities said they had found the remains of a person reported missing in an area burned by a 64-square-mile fire in northern Colorado. They said 62-year-old Linda Steadman's home received two emergency notifications after the fire started this weekend, and a firefighter who tried to get to her home to warn her was chased out by flames.

The fire has damaged 118 structures west of Fort Collins and prompted hundreds of evacuations. The Colorado blaze and massive wildfires in drought-parched New Mexico have been testing the resources of state and federal crews. In New Mexico, fire managers hoped to use a break in the weather to fight a 54-square-mile blaze near Ruidoso from the air. Winds grounded aircraft there Sunday. Residents in Ruidoso were told to prepare to evacuate if conditions worsen.

The fire comes as resources have been reduced by several wildfires across the West. The U.S. Forest Service added four tankers, including two from Canada, to its firefighting fleet last week following the crash of a tanker that killed two pilots at a southern Utah wildfire.

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