FOUNTAIN, Colo. – Fed by gusty winds, a grass fire grew to about 1,800 acres Monday, forcing the evacuation of about 100 people in southern Colorado and closing a major highway. It was contained late Monday.
Between 30 and 35 businesses in a small shopping center were evacuated as the fire burned behind it, said El Paso County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Cliff Northam.
Winds gusting to nearly 50 mph along the eastern edge of the Rockies ahead of a storm system pushed the fire along a creek, across grass and scrub oak parched by recent dry weather.
"We'd have had this out hours ago if it wasn't for this wind," Northam said.
No homes or businesses were damaged and the fire was 100 percent contained by about 8 p.m. Monday, though some hot spots remained, according to Fountain Police Deputy Chief Mark Barnett.
The blaze was near this community south of Colorado Springs, about 75 miles south of Denver. No injuries were reported.
A thick haze of smoke wafted over some who had gathered to watch the blaze sweep across an open field near their homes.
"We've been watering down our whole house -- everything," said 16-year-old Michelle Magariver, who bought dust masks and handed them out to those watching smoke rise near railroad tracks.