Junkins Fire slows but still at 0 percent containment; evacuations remain in place

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CUSTER COUNTY, Colo. -- The huge Junkins Fire that broke out Monday morning and swelled to more than 15,000 acres had only a small amount of growth overnight, officials said Tuesday.

The fire remains at 16,312 acres with 0 percent containment, officials said at a news conference. Fire originated from a metal outbuilding that blew into a power line, according to the sheriff's office.

Officials said five homes and 13 buildings have been lost in Custer County because of the fire. The destroyed homes were off County Road 358 and Highway 165.

Officials are hoping to get some containment on Tuesday with no red flag warning issued. But winds are still an issue. They said 114 personnel are fighting the fire, with three 20-person crews building a line to try to prevent it from growing north.

The fire broke out about 3:40 a.m. in the area of Highways 96 and 165 east of Westcliffe.

Firefighters from Trinidad, Walsenburg, La Junta and Lamar have been dispatched to Pueblo County to help fight the fire.

Evacuations and pre-evacuation orders, including in Beulah, remain the same, officials said. New evacuations are not anticipated, officials said.

In all, 175 homes remain under mandatory evacuation orders. People in another 70 homes were on pre-evacuation alert.

Evacuations were ordered in Custer County for county roads 358, 385, 387 and 389; the Eagle Spring Ranch subdivision; Highway 165 from McKenzie Junction to Highway 78; Highway 96 from McKenzie Junction to County Road 390; Greenwood Road; and Bobcock Hole.

Evacuations were ordered in Pueblo County for North Creek Road from County Line to Central in Beulah; and Simonson Trail and North Creek Road from the Pueblo County line to Beulah.

Fire managers said the area that's burning hasn't had a fire in about 140 years and that the fuel is thick.

The U.S. Postal Service said because of road closures, mail service will be made to about 75 addresses in Westcliffe and 30 in Beulah.

The areas include Junkins Park and the Eagle Springs subdivision in Westcliffe, and the North Creek and North Creek Cutoff areas in Beulah.

Mail for those addresses will be held at the local post offices in Westcliffe (4 Bassick Place) and Beulah (8867 Grand Ave.).

Evacuation sites are available at Valley Bible Fellowship and First Southern Baptist Church in Westcliffe.

There's also an evacuation center open at Rye Middle School and the American Red Cross said it opened a center at Craver Middle School in Colorado City.

Large animals can be taken to the Saddle Club at the Custer County Fairgrounds or Draper's Ranch, the Custer County Sheriff's Office said.

In Pueblo County, a shelter has been set up at the Colorado State Fairgrounds.

A Type I management team is expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon and take over command of the fire on Wednesday morning.

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