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Utah wildfire evacuees allowed to return to homes

About 2,300 Utah wildfire evacuees were allowed to return to their homes Saturday evening after officials determined the blaze no longer posed a threat to them.

The decision came after the fire had burned Friday within a quarter mile of some homes in Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain, about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Teresa Rigby said.

No homes have burned, she said, and fire officials were comfortable with the decision to lift the evacuation order after seeing how the 9-square-mile blaze behaved Saturday afternoon during high winds and high temperatures.

"The fire itself is still active but it no longer is a direct threat to homes," Rigby told The Associated Press. "Most of the fire is up on the mountain at this time and not near the subdivisions."

The evacuation order, imposed Friday, affected nearly 600 homes and roughly 2,300 residents, according to an updated count released Saturday by fire officials.

Winds pushed some of the fire back on itself Saturday afternoon, Rigby said, and crews managed to put out "hot spots" closest to homes.

The fire that officials believe was started Thursday by target shooters was 30 percent contained Saturday evening, with full containment expected Tuesday.

Crews also were battling a 16,500-acre brush fire on high desert near the town of Delta in central Utah.

The human-caused fire was 60 percent contained Saturday evening, BLM spokesman Don Carpenter said, and had burned no homes after breaking out Friday.

While the fire was burning roughly eight miles from the communities of Lynndyl and Leamington, it posed no threat to them at this time, he said.

Elsewhere:

— In Colorado, hot, dry weather and gusty winds are fueling two new wildfires, prompting evacuations in some tourist areas.

Authorities in the Colorado Springs area have issued mandatory evacuation notices to residents near a wildfire that has quickly became a dangerous threat. The Gazette (http://bit.ly/Lqy1DB ) reports that the Waldo Canyon Fire flared up at around noon on Saturday.

Fire officials said the fire was burning on about 150 acres by late afternoon, with approximately 250 homes threatened.

Meanwhile, a fire erupted Saturday afternoon in the town of Estes Park, near the Beaver Meadows entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Denver Post reported that 21 structures were destroyed and other homes were evacuated as firefighting resources poured in.

And firefighters gave up some ground to a wildfire that has scorched more than 118 square miles and destroyed at least 191 homes west of Fort Collins. Crews stationed near threatened homes Friday had to retreat for their safety, and containment slipped from 60 percent to 45 percent.

— In California, a wildfire that broke out about 60 miles north of Los Angeles has triggered evacuations of campgrounds around an off-road recreation area. The Ventura County Fire Department says the fire was reported shortly after noon Saturday near the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area. It has burned at least 400 acres. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Hungry Valley is located along the Interstate 5 corridor, in Gorman.

— In Nevada, a wildfire that has scorched more than 11,000 acres of rugged terrain in northeast Nevada near the Utah line is 75 percent contained. It began as a U.S. Forest Service prescribed burn that escaped June 9.

— In New Mexico, a lightning-caused wildfire that destroyed 242 homes and businesses is 90 percent contained after crews got a break in the weather. Heavy rain Friday helped crews increase containment lines on the 69-square-mile fire near Ruidoso that began June 4. Meanwhile, the more than 464-square-mile Whitewater-Baldy blaze, the largest in state history, is 87 percent contained. It began May 16 as two lightning-caused blazes that merged to form one fire.

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