BEULAH, Colo. – Improving weather helped crews make progress against a wildfire that had forced nearly 5,000 people to flee their homes, officials said Wednesday.
The blaze in the Wet Mountains (search) had grown to 12,200 acres, but firefighters had extended their containment lines around 40 percent of the fire.
The entire town of Beulah and two subdivisions outside town were reopened to residents. Pueblo County sheriff's spokesman Steve Bryant said he did not know how many people had left. About 1,200 people live within the town.
Bryant said everyone in Pueblo County (search) was allowed to return, while Custer County dispatchers reported all evacuation orders were lifted. About 100 residents in a Greenwood subdivision were allowed to return earlier this week.
"Monday we got a toehold and yesterday we put a foot in," U.S. Forest Service (search) spokesman Dave Steinke said.
Elsewhere, however, a 9,260-acre blaze jumped containment lines in southern Arizona, and about 30 summer homes and lodges were evacuated in a valley that is a world-renowned bird-watching area.
Steinke said fire managers in Colorado could contain the fire soon, with crews massing on the southern and southeastern edges of the blaze.
"That's the area we really need to get buttoned up today," Steinke said.
No injuries were reported and no homes burned, but more than 1,000 houses, outbuildings and other structures were listed as threatened by the fire, which was started by lightning July 6.
The evacuations in southern Arizona, east of the city of Green Valley near Tucson, were conducted primarily as a precaution, firefighting officials said. Crews wanted people out of Madera Canyon so they can build fire lines and because there is only one road out of the canyon, said Bill Watt, a spokesman for the firefighting team.
Eight to 10 residents evacuated Tuesday night and 12 to 15 others left Wednesday morning, said Louis Chaboya, director of the Santa Cruz County Office of Emergency Management.
More than 730 firefighters were battling the blaze that had been started by lightning last Thursday.
Crews had nearly completed a containment line on the fire's southern edge Monday, but shifting wind caused the blaze to flare. By Wednesday, firefighters said, the fire was 16 percent contained.
Madera Canyon draws visitors to see several species of hummingbirds and rare birds including the colorful Elegant Trogon.
Elsewhere, a wildfire whipped by coastal winds burned Wednesday in rugged brushlands along the back yards of expensive hilltop homes on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, about 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
Residents sprayed vegetation with their garden hoses, while firefighters brought in fire engines to protect homes and helicopters dropped water.
The blaze grew to 10 acres after it was initially reported; there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, said a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher.
In South Dakota, a fire in the Black Hills that burned over 6 square miles was 65 percent contained Wednesday; full containment is expected Saturday. The wildfire, burning northwest of Rapid City, is believed to have been ignited by lightning Friday. A house and garage were destroyed.