DURANGO, Colo. (CBS4) — State leaders visited the 416 Fire on Tuesday.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, along with Rep. Scott Tipton, met with those coordinating the firefighting response. They also met with the community.
PHOTO GALLERY: 416 Fire
The 416 Fire has burned 23,378 acres since it began about 10 a.m. June 1 about 10 miles north of Durango. It is 15 percent contained. More than 2,000 homes have been forced to evacuate.
Evacuated residents in San Juan County will be allowed re-entry beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
La Plata County officials say Highway 550 will be open to escorted traffic from 112 p.m. – 6 p.m. Wednesday, and the northern closure point will move to mile marker 49.5 just north of Purgatory.
The fire is burning on the west side of Highway 550 on some private land and in the San Juan National Forest.
San Juan National Forest officials in southwestern Colorado closed hundreds of miles of trails and thousands of miles of back roads to hikers, bikers, horseback riders and campers Tuesday to prevent the possibility of an abandoned campfire or any other spark from starting a wildfire. It’s the first full closure of a national forest in Colorado since 2002, which was another very dry year.
The closure will remain until sufficient precipitation eases the fire danger.
The 416 Fire is burning in timber, grass, and brush. As the fire gains elevation the vegetation transitions to aspen, mixed conifer and spruce fir.
Another fire nearby, the Burro Fire, has burned about 4 square miles. Authorities are still investigating how the fire started.
No homes have been lost although the fire came close to buildings Sunday night, authorities said. Fire managers credited advance fire mitigation work by homeowners for helping firefighters save the structures.