Lightning Causing Numerous Fires To Start In The Coconino National Forest

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Around 11 a.m Tuesday morning, Summit County Fire & EMS reported a wildfire burning on Buffalo Mountain.

La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith said about 70 percent of residents who were evacuated have been allowed to return home.

However, officials said that as a result of "anticipated weather-related challenges", such as potential lightning storms, strong downdrafts, and high winds, a new pre-evacuation notice has been issued as a precaution for 163 residences and two businesses along the west side of County Road 203.

Residents needed to present ID to get back into their neighborhoods.

By afternoon, though, officials were optimistic about their battle against the Buffalo fire, which elicited a massive response of firefighters and firefighting aircraft and was burning on about 100 acres in the White River National Forest.

A public information officer spoke with KDVR's Emily Allen and would not specify the exact cause of the blaze but instead listed off a number of possibilities, including the idea that a piece of glass thrown on the ground may have magnified and started the fire. More than 1,000 firefighters will fight the fire Wednesday.

Time lapse video shows thick plumes of smoke, billowing since June 1.

Extreme fire danger is shutting southwestern Colorado's San Juan National Forest, a rare tactic also being used in neighboring states as the U.S. Southwest struggles with severe drought.

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As of late Monday, there is no confirmation of structures burned or destroyed.

With fires still burning, wooded areas could be off limits for the rest of the week as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) gets ready to enforce a forest closure order.

In Wyoming near the border with Colorado, about 400 homes have been evacuated because of another fire.

The Ute Park Fire in New Mexico began May 31 and forced 2,200 people in the area to evacuate their homes within the first three days of the blaze.

At about noon, the fire was reported at 91 acres, as firefighters said there was rapid growth.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

An overnight shelter has been opened for evacuees at Frisco Elementary School.

Though thunderstorms in the next few days could bring much-needed moisture to the area, officials are anxious the storm could bring lightning and gusty winds that lead to unpredictable fire behavior. "As we have proved time and time again, Coloradans are resilient". This means that forest campgrounds, day use areas, roads, and trails will be closed, including wilderness areas, and that hiking, dispersed camping, and other recreational activities are prohibited.

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