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CO fire threatens hundreds of homes

BY SUSAN KIM | BAILEY, Colo. | April 24, 2002

A wildfire in Colorado is threatening more than 500 homes that have been evacuated in the Bailey area.

The fire has spread so quickly and the area is so dry that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Joe Allbaugh personally phoned Colorado Governor Bill Owens Tuesday night to offer FEMA's assistance in fighting the fire.

At least two schools were closed Tuesday. Officials remained concerned about high winds fanning flames Wednesday. The area has seen its driest spring in four decades, and the summer fire season is potentially disastrous.

"We're just a tinderbox," said Polly White, public information officer for Colorado emergency management. The fire was 10 percent contained Wednesday morning.

White said that insurance companies are already setting up in a designated area in case residents need their services.

The blaze had burned more than 800 acres of grass and timber by Wednesday morning. It started Tuesday afternoon when a pickup truck malfunctioned and burst into flames.

Cooler temperatures, higher humidity, and lower winds slowed the fire's spread Tuesday night.

Bailey, a mountain town, is located in Park County, where some 12,000 people live. The American Red Cross has opened a shelter in the Elk Creek Elementary school in the community Pine, northwest of Bailey. The Alpine Micky Animal Shelter is accepting animals.

No injuries had been reported as of Wednesday morning.

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