Colo. fire crews face high temps, wind gusts
(CBS/AP) LOVELAND, Colo. - Firefighters faced dangerous conditions across much of the Rocky Mountain region Monday, as hot, dry weather and expected gusty winds threatened to fuel a wildfire that has charred nearly 91 square miles in northern Colorado.
Authorities said three more homes may have burned in the fire near Fort Collins. The blaze that started June 9 already has destroyed at least 181 homes the most in the state's history.
Crews continue to cut and dig lines around the flames, but containment has stayed at 45 percent since Saturday.
Temperatures in the 90s and wind gusts of up to 50 mph were expected Monday, a day after strong winds helped spread the fire and prompted more evacuation orders.
On Sunday, another fire erupted in the foothills west of Colorado Springs, prompting the evacuation of an unknown number of homes as well as some cabins, a Boy Scout camp and a recreation area near the Elevenmile Canyon Reservoir, which provides water to the Denver area.
The fire has spread to 450 acres, and fire managers said it has the potential to grow much more in the dry, windy conditions.
See below for the latest information on wildfires in other Western states
As firefighters try to get the upper hand on the blaze near Fort Collins, which has burned large swaths of private and U.S. Forest Service land, local authorities have dispatched roving patrols to combat looting.
On Sunday, deputies arrested Michael Stillman Maher, 30, of Denver, on charges including theft and impersonating a firefighter. The sheriff's department said Maher was driving through the fire zone with phony firefighter credentials and a stolen government license plate.
His truck was later seen near a bar in Laporte, and investigators said they found a gun and stolen property in the vehicle.
Jeff Corum, whose home burned on the first day of the northern Colorado fire, described whirling, unpredictable winds that drove the blaze.
"That's what it's been doing, back and forth," Corum said. "It's just like a washing machine, and it's just rolling up there, and that's the way the mountains are."
Corum grabbed some clothing and two weapons when he fled, but not his credit cards. He's spent a few nights in a motel, some at a Red Cross evacuation center and some in his truck.
He's keeping a list of people and agencies who have handed him cash, paid for his laundry and given him tools to sift through the remains of his home when he's allowed back in.
The fire also is forcing wildlife to flee the flames. A moose seeking shelter in Fort Collins is back in the wild after swimming across Horsetooth Reservoir, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported.
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