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Forest fires force evacuations in the heat-stricken Colorado

DENVER – Bone-dry conditions and scorching temperatures hampered firefighters Thursday as they battled two wildfires in Colorado that burned structures in the southern part of the state, and another that has forced evacuations in the neighborhood of Rocky Mountain National Park.

About 350 homes were evacuated east of Fort Garland in southern Colorado since a fire broke out there Wednesday. The blaze has blackened about 6 square miles (15 square kilometers) and has destroyed some of the structures, but fire managers are not sure how much.

“It’s like a fog of smoke there by our house,” resident James Matthews told KKTV. “If the fire is there, it is going to be very bad, because there is propane tanks everywhere.”

Many of the evacuations were ordered in Forbes Park, a housing development started by multimillionaire Malcolm Forbes in the 1970’s and is now owned by the owners association.

Roads manager Wade Colvin said Thursday the community has approximately 320 homes, ranging from large houses, cabins, on lots that average about 2 acres (0.8 ha). About 60 of them home full-time residents, while the others are used as vacation escapes by people from all over the country and the world.

Colvin estimated that about 300 people were there when the fire broke out.

Firefighters have not been able to dig a containment lines around the flame, which is burning in a heavily forested area.

A wildfire in north-central Colorado prompted evacuation orders for residents of about 300 homes outside of Rocky Mountain National Park.

According to the Grand County Office of Emergency Management, the fire has burned only 5 to 10 acres (2 to 4 ha.), but it is dangerously close to the houses.

The fire has not crossed into Rocky Mountain National Park or you are prompted road closures, but a path is closed.

Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said several fires are burning in the area, and the smoke is seen on the west and east sides of the park.

Hot, dry and windy weather has raised the fire danger in Colorado as well as Utah and parts of Arizona and Nevada. Temperatures reached the upper 90s and triple digits across much of Colorado on Thursday.

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