Utah evacuees allowed to go home

New fires erupt in Colorado

Colorado National Guard members stop a motorist trying to head down Larimer County Road 74W on Saturday as a wildfire continues to burn near Fort Collins. Authorities sent out 992 evacuation notices Friday. Enlarge photo

DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/Associated Press

Colorado National Guard members stop a motorist trying to head down Larimer County Road 74W on Saturday as a wildfire continues to burn near Fort Collins. Authorities sent out 992 evacuation notices Friday.

About 2,300 Utah wildfire evacuees were allowed to return to their homes Saturday evening after officials determined the blaze no longer posed a threat to them.

The decision came after the fire had burned Friday within a quarter mile of some homes in Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain, about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Teresa Rigby said. No homes have burned, she said, and fire officials were comfortable with the decision to lift the evacuation order after seeing how the 9-square-mile blaze behaved Saturday afternoon during high winds and high temperatures.

The fire itself is still active, but it no longer is a direct threat to homes, Rigby said. Most of the fire is up on the mountain at this time and not near the subdivisions.

Winds pushed some of the fire back on itself Saturday afternoon, Rigby said, and crews managed to put out hot spots closest to homes.

The fire that officials believe was started Thursday by target shooters was 30 percent contained Saturday evening, with full containment expected Tuesday.

Crews also were battling a 16,500-acre brush fire on high desert near the town of Delta in central Utah.

The human-caused fire was 60 percent contained Saturday evening, BLM spokesman Don Carpenter said.

Colorado

Hot, dry weather and gusty winds fueled two new wildfires in Colorado, prompting evacuations in some of the most scenic tourist areas in the state.

A wildfire reported west of Colorado Springs on Saturday afternoon grew to an estimated 600 acres.

The Gazette reported that authorities were evacuating the exclusive Cedar Heights neighborhood, and a large plume of smoke could be seen near the Garden of the Gods nature center, which also was evacuated.

Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said a fire involving structures erupted near the Beaver Meadows Entrance on the east side of the park Saturday afternoon.

Ron Roth, a spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center, said some evacuations were taking place and several aircraft were working the blaze.

Firefighters gave up some ground to a blaze that has scorched more than 118 square miles and destroyed at least 191 homes west of Fort Collins. Crews stationed near threatened homes Friday had to retreat for their safety, and the fires containment slipped from 60 percent to 45 percent. Authorities issued nearly 1,000 evacuation notices Friday night, some of which went to residents who had returned home just two days earlier.

New Mexico

A lightning-caused wildfire that destroyed 242 homes and businesses is 90 percent contained after crews got a break in the weather. Crews took advantage of heavy rain Friday to increase containment lines on the 69-square-mile fire near Ruidoso that began June 4.

Meanwhile, the more than 464-square-mile Whitewater-Baldy blaze, the largest in state history, is 87 percent contained. It began May 16 as two lightning-caused blazes that merged to form one fire.