WESTCLIFFE, Colo. (CBS4) — Some structures have burned after residents were evacuated by a wildfire burning near the southern Colorado town of Westcliffe.
About 130 homes were evacuated with another 140 homes on pre-evacuation alert with some of those already evacuated from the vicinity of the Junkins Fire burning in Custer and Pueblo counties.
People who live in nearby Beulah, which was evacuated by the Beulah Hill Fire earlier this month, were among those told to be ready to evacuate if needed.
The fire had burned 15,751 acres by 9:15 p.m. Monday. According to authorities, one home and five outbuildings have been destroyed by the fire.
The Custer County Sheriff’s Office says the Junkins Fire has also shut down state Highway 96 Monday near the town at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
CBS4’s Matt Kroschel said smoke could be seen from 30 to 40 miles away.
Strong wind gusts up to 70 mph fueled the fire with sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph.
“Beyond scary; I keep praying the wind will die down,” an evacuee said.
“We got out just in time … we could see the glow of the fire coming over the hill and grabbed what we could, put it in the truck headed down” evacuee JC Mandin said.
More than 140 homes were immediately threatened.
“I hope we’ll still have a house up there. Bought a house six months ago and moved in three months ago and hopefully we sell a house when we get back,” Mandin said.
The cause of the fire remains unknown. The fire continued to push east Monday afternoon.
The Pueblo County Health Department sent out a warning about the fire, warning those with respiratory conditions to stay inside if smoke from the fire is moving into their area.
Strong winds are in the forecast across the state and a Red Flag Warning has been issued for the eastern half of Colorado. The region where the Junkins Fire burned was in the red fire danger area on the map for Monday.
Additional Information From The Junkins Fire Facebook Page
2 SEAT (single engine air tanker)
2 Heavy Tankers
Type 1 management team will take over the fire at 6am on Wednesday morning
6 hotshot crews
The public is asked to stay away from the area for the public and firefighters’ safety
– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Living With Wildfire section.
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