WESTCLIFFE, Colo. (CBS4) – The Junkins Fire consumed more homes on Tuesday.
The fire was reported before dawn Monday east of the small town of Westcliffe near the Rocky Mountain foothills and continued to burn unchecked in Custer and Pueblo Counties in Southern Colorado.
On Tuesday afternoon authorities confirmed at least five homes and more outbuildings have been destroyed by the fire.
The fire had burned more than 16,300 acres as of Tuesday evening. Fire officials hoped to get a better estimate of the size as aerial crews conducted mapping of the fire on Tuesday.
The fire remained zero percent contained. The cause of the fire believed to be sparked after a power line, knocked over by strong winds, landed on a barb wire fence.
The areas under evacuation and pre-evacuation remained the same as Monday night with nearly 200 homes under mandatory evacuation orders.
“We’ve made a lot of good progress. There are going to be fire crews working very hard today for both the residents of Custer and Pueblo (counties). I want to assure the residents were doing our very best, working as hard as we can to preserve the structures that are in place and to prevent any further damage to the structures,” said Custer County Sheriff Shannon Byerly.
The fire burned in Custer and Pueblo counties on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land along with private land. It was burning in mixed conifer, aspen and grass.
“Protecting our structures along the highways and roads. That’s where a lot of the private land is, that is the area of our main interest today,” said Dan Dalles, operations section chief.
There were 114 fire personnel, four single-engine tankers, two Type 1 helicopters and two heavy air tankers working the fire along with the multi-mission tanker provided by the State of Colorado.
There were hundreds of power outages in the Wetmore and Junkins areas along with some in Pueblo County.