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Crews Make Progress Against Colo. Fire

July 13, 2005

BEULAH, Colo. (AP) _ Improving weather helped crews make progress against a wildfire that had forced nearly 5,000 people to flee their homes, officials said Wednesday.

The blaze in the Wet Mountains had grown to 12,200 acres, but firefighters had extended their containment lines around 40 percent of the fire.

``Monday we got a toehold and yesterday we put a foot in,″ U.S. Forest Service spokesman Dave Steinke said.

Elsewhere, however, a 6,000-acre blaze had jumped containment lines in southern Arizona and owners of about 30 cabins were urged to evacuate a valley that is a world-renowned bird-watching area.

Steinke said fire managers in Colorado were upbeat Wednesday and could set a target date for full containment as early as Wednesday evening as crews massed on the fire’s southern and southeastern edges.

``That’s the area we really need to get buttoned up today,″ Steinke said.

Only about 100 people had been allowed to return to their homes.

No injuries were reported and no homes burned, but more than 1,000 houses, outbuildings and other structures were listed as threatened by the fire, which was started by lightning on July 6.

The evacuations in southern Arizona, east of the city of Green Valley near Tucson, were being urged primarily as a precaution, firefighting officials said. Crews wanted people out of Madera Canyon so they can build fire lines.

More than 730 firefighters were battling the blaze that had been started by lightning last Thursday.

Crews had nearly completed a containment line on the fire’s southern edge Monday, but shifting wind caused the blaze to flare. By Wednesday, firefighters said, the fire was 16 percent contained.


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