Remnants of Hurricane Aid Fire Crews in Colorado, Wyoming

June 19, 2018

A welcome dose of rain spawned by a hurricane that churned through the Pacific has given a boost in the battle against two large wildfires in Colorado and Wyoming.

The remnants of Hurricane Bud slowed the growth of the a fire in southwest Colorado, which has blackened more than 50 square miles (129 square kilometers) and is 25 percent contained, The Durango Herald reported Sunday.

Butch Knowlton, director of La Plata County Emergency Management, said Bud provided the perfect amount of rain, helping firefighters increase containment. But Scot Davis, a spokesman for the team coordinating firefighters, warned of the misconception that rain has doused the fire.

He said it kept the blaze from spreading, but crews are still putting out hot embers that could ignite dry trees, grass and shrubs.

Fire officials also are worried that rain could cause flash floods in the burn scar, which now has much less vegetation to hold back runoff.

“It’s going to come down at some point,” Davis said at a community meeting Sunday morning.

The fire started June 1 about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Durango in the Four Corners Region where Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah meet. The area is the epicenter of a large swath of land in the U.S. Southwest that is experiencing exceptional drought.

At one point, the blaze forced the evacuation of 2,200 homes, none of which has burned. It also triggered the closure of the San Juan National Forest, which is comprised of more than 2,800 square miles (7,252 square kilometers).

Weekend rainstorms also helped crews to the north in their fight against a wildfire that destroyed one home and has burned more than 30 square miles (78 square kilometers).

The fire in southern Wyoming near the Colorado border was 62 percent contained Sunday, and firefighters were taking advantage of the moisture to extinguish remaining hot spots near structures and to cut additional containment lines.

Late last week, the flames moved from dense forests full of beetle-killed trees into areas with mostly grass and brush that burn with less intensity.

The causes of both fires are under investigation.

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