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Fast-moving wildfire burns 3 homes, 30,000 acres in northeast Colorado

LOGAN COUNTY, Colo. -- A fast-moving grass fire burned at least 30,000 acres in northeastern Logan County and into Phillips County on Monday. Containment was scaled back to 50 percent after several flare-ups as of 10 p.m., the Logan County Emergency Operations Center said.

Firefighters remained on the scene throughout the night to continue fighting the fire and to monitor hot spots.

Mandatory evacuation notices for Haxtun have been lifted, but 900 pre-evacuation notices are still in effect.

The fire was first spotted around 11:30 a.m. in the Proctor area east of Sterling between Iliff and Crook, the Logan County Office of Emergency Management said.

The fire has destroyed at least three homes and one other structure, officials said. Wind gusts up to 60 mph combined with tinder-dry conditions helped the fire grow.

More than 70 firefighters from 13 fire departments were fighting the fire.

Smoke billows behind a wind farm north of Fleming, Colo., Monday afternoon as a wildfire sweeps across the prairie. (Photo: Journal Advocate)

Fleming School, Haxtun School and Caliche High School were evacuated as a precaution.

A portion of Interstate 76 was closed between exits 134 and 139 because of poor visibility from smoke as well as blowing dirt. It reopened about 6 p.m. Several other highways also closed, the Colorado Department of Transportation said.

The American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter at Emmanuel Baptist Church (300 Ball Park Road) in Sterling for those evacuated from Crook and the surrounding area, but it closed because there were no evacuees.

No injuries have been reported.