Massive 416 Fire threatens homes near Durango, Colorado, as it creates hazardous air quality


The 416 Fire continues to threaten homes and land in southwestern Colorado The wildfire, which initially ignited about 10 miles north of Durango on June 1, has ripped through 27,420 acres and is only 15 percent contained.

Fighting the blaze has proven challenging for the more than 1,000 emergency personnel working to contain it as weather conditions thwarted their firefighting efforts over the weekend and into early this week.

Colorado wildfire - AP Image

The sky turns red as the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains late Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Denver. Several wildfires in Colorado, as well as numerous other fires in the interior West, have filled the region with high levels of smoke in the air. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

"There was some growth on the northwest side, but the fire is still in areas of thinner fuel, so it is not moving quickly at this time," officials said. "The fire will likely gain intensity as it moves into denser fuel."

More than 2,100 people were ordered to evacuate the area over the weekend. However, officials announced that the evacuation orders for San Juan County residents will be lifted by 8 a.m. local time on Wednesday.

Air quality in Durango is considered at "hazardous" levels, which is the poorest level on the air quality index. Air quality advisories are in place as significant ash blows eastward from the fire, according to officials. People in the area are being advised to take steps to protect their respiratory health.

San Juan County homes will remain on pre-evacuation notice, according to officials. No structures have been destroyed as of Wednesday morning. The 416 Fire's cause is still unknown.

A handful of other wildfires, including the 95-percent-contained Ute Park Fire in New Mexico, continue to burn in the Four Corners region. A 100-acre wildfire in Colorado's Buffalo Mountain ignited Tuesday morning 2 miles west of Silverthorne, prompting hundreds of evacuations in that area.

Some of the larger wildfires that Colorado has experienced include the 117 Fire, which burned 40,892 acres in April 2018; and 2002's Hayman Fire, which ripped through 138,114 acres and is considered the state's largest wildfire on record.

Editor's note: This story previously reported that the 416 Fire was the fifth largest wildfire in Colorado history. The information has been updated to reflect larger wildfires that have occurred.