Rain Cools Colorado Fires; Other Fires Grow

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

DENVER (AP) - Rains cooled Colorado's wildfires Wednesday, but
more than a dozen wildfires elsewhere in the West continued chewing
through bone-dry pine and brush as firefighters working through the
holiday kept a nervous eye for fireworks and other hazards.

Wildfires in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado sent haze and smoke
across Colorado's Front Range, prompting air-quality health
advisories as firefighters warned of growing fires in sparsely
populated areas.

In Colorado Springs, there was good news in the fight against
the most destructive fire in state history.

Light rains that fell overnight helped calm the Waldo Canyon
Fire, which has scorched 28 square miles, killed two and destroyed
almost 350 homes. Firefighters predicted full containment of the
fire by Sunday, with more rain, cooler temperatures and higher
humidity predicted through the weekend.

The forecast wasn't as kind in eastern Montana, where a mammoth
380-square-mile in Custer National Forest was gobbling up pine,
juniper and sage with help from gusty winds. The fire has burned 16

Firefighters gave the blaze "extreme" growth potential, with
wind gusts up to 45 mph predicted. Temperatures were expected to
reach the 100s.

As firefighting efforts continued, holiday fireworks were
canceled across the region. Colorado officials were calling off
holiday displays from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, while law
enforcement was warning of hefty fines for people caught violating
personal fireworks bans across the region.

Residents in some parched areas were joining police. In one
Colorado Springs neighborhood, a homemade sign read, "FAIR
WARNING: Anyone using or allowing use of fireworks in this
neighborhood will be dealt with harshly! And that doesn't mean just
by the police!"

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, which
coordinates wildfire-fighting efforts nationwide, said 45 large
fires were burning Wednesday, including 36 fires in nine Western
states. In Colorado alone, three fires have destroyed more than 600
homes and killed six residents.

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