Wildfire near Durango forces evacuations, state of local disaster declared

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LA PLATA COUNTY, Colo. -- Authorities declared a state of local disaster in La Plata County Friday night because of a rapidly growing wildfire, ongoing drought conditions and the potential for additional wildfires.

The 416 Fire started burning 10 miles north of Durango in southwest Colorado earlier Friday. It forced the evacuation of at least 800 homes and shut down US Highewy 550.

It was estimated at 1,100 acres by Friday evening.

Evacuations were ordered from the Electra Lake area south to Baker's Bridge on the east side of Highway 550, west of the Animas River. La Plata County sheriff's deputies were going door-to-door to notify residents.

An evacuation center was open at Escalante Middle School at 141 Baker Lane in Durango. A second evacuation center was opening at Silverton School, 1160 Snowden Street in Silverton.

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The closed portion of the highway is between mile markers 34 and 48. Traffic is being rerouted to County Road 250, according to La Plata County officials.

Livestock can be evacuated to the La Plata County Fairgrounds at 2500 Main Avenue. The emergency call center at (970) 385-8700 can help coordinate pick-up of livestock. Small animals are being accepted at the La Plata County Humane Society, 1111 South Camino del Rio, Durango (970) 259-2847.

The Discover Goodwill of Durango, 1230 Escalante Drive, is now accepting clothes and household donations. Financial donations can be made by calling the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado at (970) 375-5807, in the name of the Community Emergency Relief Fund.

The fire impacted the Durango-Silverton Railroad Friday afternoon. The trains remained in Silverton. Passengers were given bus rides back to Durango on Highway 550 with escort from La Plata County sheriff's deputies.

The fire is being called the 416 fire.

The state issued an air quality alert due to heavy smoke from the fire.

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