Delta County, Colorado Fire Grows To 3,100 Acres, Four Houses Evacuated

CEDAREDGE, Colo. (AP) -- Cloudy skies, higher humidity and rocky terrain Sunday helped slow the growth of a 3,100 acre wildfire that forced the evacuations of at least four homes near this Delta County town.

In Grand Junction, 15 homes were evacauted as a brush fire near the Colorado River spread quickly in dry, 90-degree weather, said Tom Chapman, fire department spokesman.

No homes were damaged but fences and sheds were damaged as firefighters were able to keep the blaze to under 50 acres. Residents were able to return home at about 8 p.m., Chapman said.

In Cedaredge, no structures were lost as the fire burned around two of the evacuated homes, said Steven Hall, a fire information manager at the scene. The fire, which was moving north away from the town and up the southern escarpment of the Grand Mesa, was 5 percent contained.

``We had 14 engines from municipal fire departments from four different towns,'' Hall said. ``They came from Delta, Cedaredge, Hotchkiss and Paonia. There were homes in the path of the fire that were saved thanks to these firefighters.''

Residents in some 129 homes, a mix of full-time houses and hunting lodges, had been warned about the possibility of evacuation as the fire spread quickly in hot, dry weather a day before. Residents in two homes were strongly urged to leave and residents in two additional homes left as a precaution, Hall said.

The fire burned so intensely through the tops of some trees that large swaths of unburned sage brush, pinon and juniper were burned through again Sunday.

The fire started 3- to 4-miles northeast of town and was burning in private and federal land.

A 40-50-person management team was en route, said Larry Helmerick of the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center.

Nearly 100 firefighters were on hand, including two teams of Hot Shots, to begin cutting fire line and protect buildings. Eleven engines, two helicopters, three single-engine air tankers and four bulldozers were also on the scene.

It was one of 14 wildfires started across the state this weekend, Helmerick said. The fires burned about 13 acres and were quickly put out by initial attack crews, Helmerick said.

A 100-acre wildfire near Loma was also contained, Helmerick said.

Meanwhile, strong winds blew embers across fire lines at a wildfire 6 miles south of Montrose that firefighters thought had been contained, Hall said. The 80 acre wildfire was not threatening structures.