LAS ANIMAS COUNTY, Colo. – A wildfire that broke out Wednesday morning in southeastern Colorado has since grown to nearly 10,000 acres in size, with red flag warnings posted for the area Saturday.
As of Friday evening, the fire, dubbed the Cherry Canyon Fire, was 9,602 acres in size and was threatening four isolated structures, the Colorado Department of Public Safety said.
The fire started about 10 miles northwest of the town of Kim but has since grown. The CDPS said the fire is in a remote area with steep canyons and cliffs and that access to it was difficult.
Crews from Las Animas County Emergency Management, the Kim and Fowler volunteer fire departments and Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control have been battling the fire with air and ground support.
The CDPS said that ground crews are working to keep the fire north of Highway 160, east of CR 179 and west of State Highway 109.
The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control and Kim firefighters are also working on another 2-acre fire in the area about 15 miles northeast of the Cherry Canyon Fire that is called the 466 Fire.
“Safety is the number one priority and as such, strategies moving forward include maintaining firefighter and public safety by utilizing sound risk management actions and utilizing suppression activities that guide the fire into natural barriers,” the CDPS said in a news release. “Additionally, minimizing the potential impacts of COVID-19 through the practice of social distancing, proper personal hygiene, and regular cleaning.”
Severe and extreme drought has crept back into southern Colorado in recent months, and Stage 1 Fire restrictions are already in effect in Las Animas County because of dry fuels and limited resources due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Red flag warnings are in effect for all of southern Colorado Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. because of low relative humidity in the area and sustained winds out of the southwest of 15 to 25 miles per hour, with gusts up to 35 miles per hour expected.