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Fire on beeline towards Colo. homes

Northern Colorado residents on alert to evacuate because of wildfires

FORT COLLINS, Colo. | June 10, 2012

Sheriff's deputies Sunday told hundreds of northern Colorado residents to be prepared to evacuate as a fast-moving wildfire moved toward a residential area.

The High Park fire broke out at dawn Saturday west of Fort Collins in Larimer County and expanded to 8,000 acres Saturday night with no containment in sight and a fire-weather watch in effect for the area with gusts topping 30 miles per hour likely.

The Denver Post said the blaze was burning away from forest land Sunday, but was moving toward the Poudre Park neighborhood and could reach homes later in the day.

The sheriff's department told KMGH-TV, Denver, 18 structures had been burned and two area residents were unaccounted for. Deputies issued 624 evacuation notices in the Paradise Park area Sunday in addition to hundreds of other notices issued Saturday as the fire picked up strength.

"It was a tough day," Sheriff Justin Smith said Saturday night "This is the fire we've always feared we'd have."

The Denver Post said overall command of the fire would be turned over to an elite Type 1 federal fighting team Sunday.

The High Park blaze was the latest in a series of late spring wildfires that have kept crews on the job in Colorado and neighboring New Mexico.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez deployed the National Guard Saturday to help with a 10,000-acre fire burning in a remote and rocky region of the Lincoln National Forest, KOAT-TV, Albuquerque, said.

"I have asked the Guard to help local officials provide the security necessary to keep people around the area safe," Martinez said. "It is important that people remain ready to evacuate when asked and abide by the closures that are intended to keep people safe."

About 100 troops and two helicopters were assigned to the fire.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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