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Early wildfire chars up to 1,000 acres in northern Colorado ahead of strong, erratic winds

The wildfire season that Coloradans have been nervously awaiting has arrived in a wind-whipped frenzy in the foothills near Fort Collins.

The year's first major along the populous Front Range was spotted Friday morning and raced across 750 to 1,000 acres by Friday night. More than 50 homes were threatened, and authorities issued hundreds of evacuation orders.

The fire was 5 percent contained Friday night. Crews are hoping for calmer weather Saturday.

Firefighters saved two homes and a state park visitors' center. They said no homes had been destroyed.

The cause was under investigation.

The Larimer County Sheriff's Department says 860 phone lines got automated calls ordering evacuations. Authorities didn't know the exact number of homes.

Residents of a neighborhood north of the fire were allowed to return Friday night.

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