By Bernie Woodall
(Reuters) – Colorado officials ordered another 300 homes in the southwestern part of the state evacuated on Friday as a massive wildfire grew 40 percent larger than it had been the day before after jumping a highway that had previously been a barrier on its east side.
Residents of some 1,500 homes have now been ordered to evacuate the area threatened by fire, La Plata County officials said in a statement. So far no homes have been burned and no injuries reported, said Megan Graham, spokeswoman for La Plata County, Colorado.
By Friday morning, the fire had scorched 7,180 acres (2,906 hectares), up from 5,103 acres (2,065 hectares) a day earlier, said the multi-agency team fighting the fire in a daily report.
Conditions were ripe for the fire’s further spread, as there was low humidity and temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s degrees Fahrenheit (around 25 to 28 C). One advantage to firefighters was that winds were slightly calmer on Friday, officials said.
In northern New Mexico, a fire that started May 31 had burned 36,800 acres (14,900 hectares) by Friday morning. The Ute Park Fire was 66 percent contained.
In Alaska, fires were burning as far north as the treeless Arctic, where lightning has ignited a cluster of tundra fires. The biggest of them was a tundra fire that covered 13,000 acres 16 miles (26 km) east of the Inupiat Eskimo village of Point Hope on the northwest coast of the state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
BLM spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said on Friday that the fire was no longer being actively fought, as it was not expected to burn far enough to affect any of the few cabins on native-owned land in the area.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Yereth Rosen in Anchorage, Alaska; Editing by Marguerita Choy)