Evacuations Lifted In Colorado Wildfire

CEDAREDGE, Colo. (AP) -- Evacuation recommendations have been lifted for 129 houses near a 2,960-acre wildfire as cloudy skies and calm weather helped firefighters battling the blaze Monday.

About 210 firefighters made good progress putting a defensive ring around the lightning-caused fire, which was 35 percent contained, said Larry Helmerick, spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Group.

The fire smoldered for most of the day, occasionally burning a tree or a group of trees, but for the most part did not spread, Helmerick said.

Firefighters sizing up the fire discovered it had destroyed at least one outbuilding.

At the height of the fire Saturday, residents from at least four homes had evacuated.

Cloudy, calm weather was expected for at least another day and firefighters hoped to have the fire contained by Thursday.

Two helicopters were helping fight the blaze, which was burning in brush and pinon and juniper forests on a mix of private and federal land on the Grand Mesa about three miles northeast of Cedaredge.

Some residents stayed overnight in a church that was designated as a shelter. The U.S. Forest Service closed one hiking trail in the Grand Mesa National Forest, said fire information officer Beth Hermanson.

Helmerick said it was one of at least 14 wildfires that started across the state during the weekend. Most of the fires were small and quickly put out by initial attack crews, he said.

Several larger fires also were contained, including a 50-acre brush fire near the Colorado River in Grand Junction that damaged some fences and sheds; a 100-acre fire near Loma; and an 80-acre fire south of Montrose.