Remnants of hurricane help crews slow 416 Fire, gain 30 percent containment

DURANGO, Colo. — A welcome dose of rain spawned by a hurricane that churned through the Pacific has given a boost in the battle against a large wildfire in southwest Colorado.

The remnants of Hurricane Bud slowed the growth of the 416 Fire north of Durango. The fire did not grow overnight Monday and was at 34,161 acres and 30 percent containment, officials said.

Butch Knowlton, director of La Plata County Emergency Management, said Bud provided the perfect amount of rain, helping firefighters increase containment.

But Scot Davis, a spokesman for the team coordinating firefighters, warned of the misconception that rain has doused the fire.

He said it kept the blaze from spreading, but crews are still putting out hot embers that could ignite dry trees, grass and shrubs.

Fire officials also are worried that rain could cause flash floods in the burn scar, which now has much less vegetation to hold back runoff.

The fire started June 1 about 10 miles north of Durango. The area is the epicenter of a large swath of land in the U.S. Southwest that is experiencing exceptional drought.

At one point, the blaze forced the evacuation of 2,200 homes, none of which has burned. It also triggered the closure of the San Juan National Forest, which is comprised of more than 2,800 square miles.

The weekend rain also helped crews in their fight against a wildfire that destroyed one home and has burned 20,090 acres in southern Wyoming near the Colorado border.

The Badger Creek Fire was 62 percent contained Sunday, and firefighters were taking advantage of the moisture to extinguish remaining hot spots near structures and to cut additional containment lines.

The causes of both fires are under investigation.

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