Wildfire destroys more than 100 Colorado homes
Denver – A growing wildfire destroyed more than 100 homes in the Colorado mountains, while other blazes across the parched U.S. West kept hundreds of other homes under evacuation orders Tuesday and derailed holiday plans.
Authorities announced late Monday that a fire near Fort Garland, about 205 miles southwest of Denver, had destroyed 104 homes in a mountain housing development started by multimillionaire publisher Malcolm Forbes in the 1970s. The damage toll could rise because the burn area is still being surveyed.
Tamara Estes’ family cabin, which her parents had built in 1963 using wood and rocks from the land, was among the homes destroyed.
“I think it’s sinking in more now. But we’re just crying,” she said. “My grandmother’s antique dining table and her hutch are gone.”
“It was a sacred place to us,” she added.
Andy and Robyn Kuehler watched their cabin burn down remotely. The couple monitored the cabin’s surveillance video from their primary residence in Nebraska and watched as the ash and embers turned into roaring flames.
“We just got confirmation last night that the house was completely gone. It’s … a very sickening feeling watching the fire coming towards the house,” the couple wrote in an email Tuesday.
The blaze, labeled the Spring Fire, is one of six large wildfires burning in Colorado and is the largest at 123 square miles – about five times the size of New York’s Manhattan. While investigators believe it was started by a spark from a fire pit, other fires, like one that began burning in wilderness near Fairplay, were started by lightning.
Nearly 60 large, active blazes are burning across the West, including nine in New Mexico and six each in Utah and California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
In Utah, authorities have evacuated 200 to 300 homes because of a growing wildfire near a popular fishing reservoir southeast of Salt Lake City amid hot temperatures and high winds. Several structures have been lost since the fire started Sunday, but it’s unclear how many, said Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forest, Fire and State Lands.
Darren Lewis and his extended family planned to spend the Fourth of July at a cabin built nearly 50 years ago by his father and uncle in a wilderness area nestled between canyons and near a mountain river.
Instead, Lewis and his family will spend the holiday nervously waiting to hear if a half-century of family memories go up in smoke because of the fire, which has grown to 47 square miles.
Meanwhile, a wind-fueled wildfire in Northern California was threatening 900 buildings.
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