Colorado wildfires spread to ski resort towns, force more evacuations

Wildfires in Colorado spread Tuesday, triggering new evacuation orders and threatening a popular ski resort area.

The state's largest fire forced the evacuation of more than 1,300 homes Tuesday after spreading dangerously close to the resort town of Silverthorne and two densely populated housing developments, just 60 miles west of Denver.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Adam Bianchi said the latest fire came within 200 yards of a subdivision that includes condos, apartments and pricey homes. 

In this Monday, June 11, 2018, photo, flames consume trees during a burnout operation that was performed south of County Road 202 near Durango, Colo.

In this Monday, June 11, 2018, photo, flames consume trees during a burnout operation that was performed south of County Road 202 near Durango, Colo. (AP)

“There were big black rolling clouds coming off it and it had gotten to the edge of the forest, right next to the neighborhood,” Silverthorne resident Jake Schulman told the Summit Daily after spotting the fire while hiking. "I called my mom to see if a fire was reported, and she said there was and that we need to get off the mountain."

Tuesday's fires were only eight miles away from the closest ski resort.

More than 50 firefighters were sent to battle the flames.

“I was absolutely shocked by how fast it spread,” Schulman said.

The fires began June 1 in the San Juan National Forest and have continued to grow amid dry and hot weather. A severe drought also has hit the Four Corners area where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet.

In all, more than 2,000 homes have been evacuated.

Across the region, the dry winter has led to a dangerous fire season as firefighters battle blazes in Utah, Wyoming, Washington and California.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.