PUEBLO, Colo. – A wildfire that has forced hundreds from their homes in southern Colorado destroyed seven homes, but authorities were hopeful Tuesday that they can get a handle on the blaze.
The fire broke out Monday near the town of Beulah and quickly spread in winds that gusted up to 50 mph. All people living in the town and the surrounding valley 25 miles southwest of Pueblo, about 1,950 residents, were ultimately ordered to evacuate after the fire spread in various directions.
Winds were not quite as strong Tuesday, allowing helicopters to drop water on the fire, which has grown to over 7 square miles on terrain ranging from grassy plains and steep canyons. The area has a mix of both permanent homes and vacation properties.
"We got some air support in here today and we're going to kill this thing," Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor said.
He said it was a difficult decision to expand the evacuation order because of the fire's unpredictability and promised to let residents back into their homes as soon as possible.
No injuries have been reported and no cause has been announced.
The wildfire comes after a relatively quiet fire season in Colorado as the weather begins to turn colder. As the fire burned, snow fell in parts of western Colorado's mountains, causing accidents along portions of Interstate 70. However, at lower elevations in the state's eastern half, winds and prolonged dry weather were still making it easy for any spark to spread into a fire.
A car accident started a grass fire along a highway in Boulder County on Tuesday morning, but firefighters were able to stop it at about 2 acres.