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Firefighters holding own in Colo., N.M.

Whitewater-Baldy fire is 75 percent contained

FORT COLLINS, Colo. | June 17, 2012

Winds were gusting up to 40 miles per hour Sunday in northern Colorado where the state's most-destructive wildfire raged, weather forecasters said.

Temperatures at the High Park fire west of Fort Collins were in the 90s, and the National Weather Service had red-flag warnings posted as far west as the Nevada-California border.

The High Park fire was about 45 percent contained Sunday at 55,050 acres. However, the National Interagency Fire Center said the fire was actively burning through timber and brush and remained a threat to structures.

The High Park blaze has destroyed 181 homes, surpassing the previous state record for a single wildfire of 169 homes set in 2010, The Denver Post said.

The newspaper said firefighters were deploying tree-felling machinery used by loggers which enables them to cut down trees and haul them away without the trees falling to the ground and adding to the fuel supply on the forest floor.

Fire crews in New Mexico had a handle Sunday on the huge Whitewater-Baldy fire, which was 75 percent contained at more than 290,000 acres.

Overnight rain helped the situation with the Little Bear fire, which spread to 38,311 acres Saturday and has consumed more than 200 structures. KOAT-TV, Albuquerque, said the rain may have slowed the fire down, but it also resulted in flash-flood advisories for the burn areas.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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