Rangers close large chunks of public forest in West as wildfires

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Due to the extreme fire danger, the U.S. Forest Service closed the entire, almost 3,000-square-mile San Juan National Forest to the public on Tuesday.

"Given the fire behavior that we've been seeing and the amount of fire on the landscape and the amount of structures in the area, that's a really good thing", Knight said.

The forest, which covers more than 1.8 million acres in western Colorado, announced Tuesday the Stage 3 closure is "to protect natural resources and public safety" because of the danger of the blaze known as the 416 Fire. It's the first full closure of a national forest in Colorado since 2002, which was another very dry year.

"The fire dangers are only increasing in critically dry conditions".

Previous evacuations include the communities of Mountain Home, Wold Tract, WyoColo, Foxpark, Gramm, Beehive, and Miller Lake.

The fire's cause is under investigation.

The origin of the fire is still unknown and the Medicine Bow National Forest is asking the public who might have been in the area Sunday afternoon to provide insight on what happened.

Since 2006, the U.S. Forest Service has created a 900-acre buffer between the houses and the trees there.

The closure of the San Juan National Forest does not affect whether the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad may run again.

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Extreme fire danger is shutting southwestern Colorado's San Juan National Forest, a rare tactic also being used in neighboring states as the U.S. Southwest struggles with severe drought.

Rangers have closed the entire San Juan National Forest in southern Colorado and Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico near Santa Fe, along with popular areas in the Tonto, Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino and Kaibab national forests in Arizona.

"We recognize that this is hard for the local businesses and the local economy and just ask that people just be understanding and patient", Hooley said.

Erin Sirek with the Summit County Sheriff's Department Residents helps direct a resident with a dog as residents evacuate their homes from a wild fire approaching in the Wildernest neighbourhood near Silverthorne, Colo., on Tuesday.

CBS4)- Firefighters say there was no new growth on the Buffalo Fire overnight. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is considering offering limited service later in the month with locomotives powered by diesel rather than its typical coal-fired engines, which can throw sparks.

"If it were not for this fire break, along with aggressive air attack and ground support, these two subdivisions most likely would have significant fire damage or be destroyed", Berino said.

"We are resilient in Durango".

"We're trying to prevent human starts", Hooley said.

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