A growing wildfire destroyed more than 100 homes in the Colorado mountains, while other blazes across the parched U.S. West kept hundreds of other homes under evacuation orders and derailed holiday plans.
Authorities announced that a fire near Fort Garland, about 205 miles southwest of Denver, had destroyed 104 homes in a mountain housing development started by multimillionaire publisher Malcolm Forbes in the 1970s. The damage toll could rise because the burn area is still being surveyed.
Tamara Estes' family cabin, which her parents had built in 1963 using wood and rocks from the land, was among the homes destroyed.
“I think it's sinking in more now. But we're just crying,'' she said. “My grandmother's antique dining table and her hutch are gone.''
“It was a sacred place to us.”
The blaze, labeled the Spring Fire, is one of six large wildfires burning in Colorado and is the largest at 123 square miles — about five times the size of Manhattan. While investigators believe it was started by a spark from a fire pit, other fires, like one that began burning in wilderness near Fairplay, were started by lightning.
Nearly 60 large, active blazes are burning across the West, including nine in New Mexico and six each in Utah and California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Because of the Independence Day holiday, authorities were also concerned about the possibility of campfires or fireworks starting new fires because of the dry, hot conditions. In Colorado, many communities canceled firework displays, and a number of federal public lands and counties have some degree of fire restrictions in place, banning things like campfires or smoking outdoors.
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