Colorado blaze grows, but homes unscathed so far

The latest large wildfire to blaze up in Colorado continued to grow uncontrollably over the weekend but had yet to claim any homes as of Sunday.

The so-called West Fork Complex fire -- a group of three fires in the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests in southwestern Colorado -- grew to 70,000 acres and remained 0% contained.

The tourist town of South Fork remained under evacuation, but no structures had been destroyed, officials said Sunday.

"It’s great, considering how much has burned and how difficult this fire’s been," Betsy Coffee, a spokeswoman for the incident response, told the Los Angeles Times.

Like the other recent fires in Colorado, the West Fork fire grew rapidly over difficult terrain with the help of dead trees, dry weather, and erratic winds.

"It switches around so you don’t know what the fire’s going to do, and it’s so windy that the air drops aren’t effective, and so steep and dangerous that you can’t get boots on the ground," Coffee said. 

“Much of this burning is in timber that’s dead because of beetle kill, and so that’s what makes it so hot and so dangerous," Coffee added. "All this dead timber just goes up like a match."

She was referring to the pine bark beetle, which savages trees to leave stands of dead forest.

The Rio Grande County Sheriff's Office said there were no new evacuations Sunday, but the fires did dampen vacation plans. "It affects tourist traffic for sure," Coffee said.

Officials think the fire began Wednesday after a lightning strike.

The blaze came immediately after firefighters contained the most destructive blaze in state history, the Black Forest fire, which destroyed 502 structures.


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