Wildfire evacuation orders lifted in Colorado, Montana

AP News
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Posted: Jul 08, 2017 2:53 PM
Wildfire evacuation orders lifted in Colorado, Montana

Evacuation orders were lifted in Colorado and Montana towns threatened by wildfires, while air and ground crews battled a growing grass fire Saturday in northwestern Colorado.

Residents of nearly 500 homes outside the ski town of Breckenridge, Colorado, were allowed to return home Friday night. On Saturday, authorities lifted an evacuation order in Landusky, Montana, in the Little Rocky Mountains south of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.

The Breckenridge fire was less than a square mile (about one-third square kilometer) and has not grown for two days, but it was dangerous to firefighters because it was burning in beetle-killed trees that are prone to topple.

The fire was 25 percent contained. More than 360 firefighters were on scene.

The Breckenridge Summer Beer Festival was going on as planned at the Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center.

"We are anticipating kind of business as usual," said Bruce Horii, sales and marketing director for Beaver Run.

He said crowds in town appeared to be about 10 percent smaller than usual.

"I was on Main Street last night. It was busy, restaurants were still full," Horii said.

Little smoke was visible in town Saturday, he said.

The Montana fire had burned 16 square miles (42 square kilometers) and was 40 percent contained. About 30 homes had been evacuated in Landusky, and some firefighters were stationed in town to snuff out any embers dropped by heat and wind currents.

The grass fire in northwestern Colorado had burned 18 square miles (47 square kilometers) and was spreading in several directions at once because of wind patterns from passing thunderstorms, fire information officer Chris Barth said.

The fire was near some structures, and to the north lies habitat for sage grouse, a bird that state and federal wildlife managers are trying to protect.

A wildfire in southern Wyoming grew to 3 square miles (8 square kilometers). An unknown number of cabins remained under evacuation orders.

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