Wildfire nears Colorado town

Officials working to protect South Fork

DEL NORTE, Colo. – A wildfire threatening a tourist region in southwestern Colorado mushroomed to about 100 square miles Saturday, but officials said they remained optimistic they could protect the town of South Fork.

The erratic blaze’s rapid advance prompted the evacuation of hundreds of summer visitors and the town’s 400 permanent residents Friday, and it could be days before people are allowed back, fire crew spokeswoman Laura McConnell said. South Fork Mayor Kenneth Brooke estimated that up to 1,500 people were forced to flee.

Saturday night, officials provided an estimate of the size of the wildfire burning through a remote mountainous region but said they wouldn’t have a better idea of its size until infrared imaging is done overnight.

McConnell said no structures had been lost, and the fire was still about five miles from the town.

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