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Control, Arrests In Wildfires

Six young people in Colorado have been charged with starting wildfires, as firefighters there and in New Mexico got a handle on their fires.

The Colorado blazes burned a combined 2,675 acres in Colorado over the past two weeks.

Another Colorado wildfire that forced 2,400 people to flee their homes was fully contained Wednesday, and authorities were investigating whether it was started intentionally.

Firefighters Wednesday put out hot spots left by a 800-acre wildfire in the Santa Fe National Forest even as crews in western New Mexico battled an out-of-control blaze at a Navajo reservation.

The fight against the fire east of Santa Fe turned a corner Wednesday after forcing the evacuation of 300 people. The blaze, which engulfed hundreds of acres in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, was 70 percent contained late Wednesday.

"The winds were really gusting and eddying around the canyon but the lines withstood everything the winds threw at us," said fire information officer Jim Whittington.

No homes burned and no fire-related injuries were reported. Investigators want to question two men seen jumping into a white sport utility vehicle where the fire started.

Park County, Colorado, prosecutors Tuesday filed arson charges against Eric Sean Alderfer, 15, Austin Franklin Dunst, 14, and Tyler James Hancock, 14, all freshman at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey.

They are accused of starting a fire April 23 in Bailey, 35 miles southwest of Denver, that burned 2,600 acres before it was contained five days later. No structures were destroyed, but the fire cost an estimated $2.6 million to fight.

Deputy District Attorney David Thorson said the teens will be tried as juveniles.

A 14-year-old girl was arrested Wednesday on two counts of felony arson for allegedly starting a fire in Monument, 17 miles north of Colorado Springs, that burned 40 acres and forced the evacuation of 20 houses.

The girl was not identified. No structures were burned and the fire was contained about 4½ hours later. Firefighting costs were not available.

Two 10-year-old boys were arrested Monday on suspicion of starting a grass fire east of Fountain, 12 miles south of Colorado Springs, and face second-degree arson charges.

The fire Monday burned 35 acres of grass and fences on private land but did not threaten any buildings. Costs were not available.

Each of the three teens suspected in the Bailey fire faces one count felony arson, one count of misdemeanor arson, one count of firing woods or prairies and two petty offenses called general prohibitions.

They had left the school grounds without authorization to smoke cigarettes on a ridge above the high school where the fire ignited, friends told investigators.

Firefighting efforts in the Santa Fe Forest on Wednesday were so successful that firefighters were being released and residents were allowed back into their homes, Whittington said.

The outlook was not as good for a fire in the Chuska Mountains that has charred more than 600 acres on the Navajo reservation about 30 miles south of Shiprock.

Fire information officer Chadeen Palmer said the fire exploded from 40 acres to 500 acres in two hours Tuesday and erratic winds helped it grow on Wednesday.

"There has been a lot of spotting and flaring," she said.

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