Rapidly spreading wildfires choke Colo., N.M.
Smoke is spreading over parts of Colorado and more than 100 miles north into Wyoming - and 200 miles east all the way into Nebraska, Barry Petersen told "CBS This Morning."
Officials say the dry conditions might force the state to ban fireworks this Fourth of July. "The conditions this summer give every indication that we're going to be at risk all summer long," said Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Authorities say it's the worst fire seen in Larimer County in about 25 years. It spread as fast as 1 1/2 miles an hour Saturday, skipping over some areas but burning intensely in trees in others. Flames were coming dangerously close to deputies who were telling some residents to evacuate, Smith said.
Kathie Walter and her husband helped friends several miles away evacuate from the Colorado fire on Saturday. When they got home, they were surprised to get a call warning them to be ready to evacuate just in case. But Walter didn't want to wait.
"Smoke was coming in hard. We could not see flames or orange or black smoke. But we didn't need to see anymore. We just said 'Hey, let's get out of here,'" she said.
They evacuated with their five cats and two dogs. They had a head start. After a wildfire in the area last year, they had left two suitcases packed in their garage.
Elaine Mantle and her family got a call to evacuate their Bellvue home at 5:45 a.m. Sunday. It took about 30 minutes for them to get out and reach a spillover shelter at the Budweiser Event Center in Loveland. Evacuees gathered there for a fire briefing, sipping coffee and eating bananas and powdered doughnuts, in a large gymnasium-like space.
It was the Mantles' first evacuation in the 25 years that they have lived in the mountains, and they were grateful to be safe.
"We're all here, we're all OK. Our neighbors are all here. We feel good," Mantle said.
The blaze also forced the evacuation of 11 wolves from a sanctuary near the fire. KUSA-TV in Denver reported that 19 wolves remained behind at the sanctuary, which has underground concrete bunkers known as "fire dens" that can be used by the animals.
The fire is the latest to hit Colorado's drought-stricken Front Range. In May, a fire set by a camper's stove charred 12 square miles in the same Poudre Canyon area. In March, a fire sparked by a prescribed burn 25 miles southwest of Denver killed three people and damaged or destroyed more than two dozen homes.
The weather is once again making things difficult for crews trying to tame the Little Bear Fire. However, even with the whipping winds, firefighters are making some gains in some areas, reports CBS Affiliate KRQE.
It may not seem like much has changed in the last 24 hours in Ruidoso, but there have been no new evacuations and there is word that the fire is moving toward an area where it might be easier to fight.
The eastern part of the fire is a couple of miles from the Sierra Blanca Airport, heading toward Fort Stanton and south of Capitan.
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