Aircraft helping fight wildfire in southern Colorado

May 29, 2022 GMT

DENVER (AP) — Air tankers and helicopters were helping fight a new wildfire burning in southern Colorado on Sunday, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The fire, 18 miles (29 kilometers) west of Antonito, was reported Saturday in a small subdivision along the Conejos River and forced the evacuation of under 100 people north of Colorado 17, Gregg Goodland, a spokesperson for the Forest Service’s Rio Grande National Forest said. The fire was estimated to have spread to 197 acres (80 hectares) by Saturday evening and did not grow significantly overnight, he said.

People spending Memorial Day weekend at a campground near the fire were told to be prepared to evacuate, he said.

The fire started on private property but was mainly burning on Forest Service land in a steep canyon in a variety of conifer trees along with brush and aspen north of the highway, he said. The cause is under investigation.

It comes amid high wildfire danger in parts of southern Colorado as well as much of the U.S. Southwest with the return of drier, warmer weather and stronger winds.

However, to the north, the Denver area was drenched with thunderstorms Sunday while snow fell in parts of the mountains, temporarily closing part of scenic Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park.