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By Matt Kroschel

DURANGO, Colo. (CBS4)– Crews launched an intense air attack on a wildfire devouring the side of a mountain overlooking downtown Durango on Thursday. The fire was 20 percent contained by 8 p.m. Thursday.

The Lightner Creek Fire has burned more than 350 acres, fueled by strong winds and dry vegetation. One home has been destroyed.

durango fire Crews Make Progress On Lightner Creek Fire

Lightner Creek Fire (credit: La Plata County)

Hundreds of people have already evacuated their home or prepared to leave as the flames spread. Some who already left their homes were escorted back on Thursday to retrieve belongings, livestock and pets.

Longtime Durango resident Amy McClintock watched the fire from a hill above town. She says the winds were pushing the flames dangerously close to her neighborhood earlier in the day but they have changed directions… for now.

fire near durango transfer frame 155 Crews Make Progress On Lightner Creek Fire

(credit: CBS)

She isn’t taking any chances.

“My heart is pounding, it’s scary,” she said.

At a Red Cross evacuation center housed in a middle school across town, other residents are checking in and picking up donated supplies.

fire near durango transfer frame 1005 Crews Make Progress On Lightner Creek Fire

(credit: CBS)

One evacuee told CBS4 he didn’t have a car because it was in the repair shop when he got the call to evacuate, so local police helped drive him out of the fire’s path.

Donations of toiletries and animal supplies are flooding donation centers as the small community in Southwest Colorado rallies to help.

durango fire 5 jerry mcbride Crews Make Progress On Lightner Creek Fire

(credit: Jerry McBride)

“We were offering our house up for people who needed a place to go, but then the winds changed in our direction so other friends elsewhere started calling us offering a place for us to stay,” McClintock told CBS4.

Several air tankers and smaller aircraft are already assigned to the attack on the fire and more reinforcements are on the way.

durango fire 6 jerry mcbride Crews Make Progress On Lightner Creek Fire

(credit: Jerry McBride)

A fire staging area is set up at the local high school, close enough to the fire lines to see the smoke rising in the distance.

Wildfire Resources

– Visit’s Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.


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