Wildland as Paged

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Dec 11, 2002
RIFLE, Colo. -- Authorities in Garfield County were warning more people could be evacuated Friday if an 1,800-acre wildfire continueed to spread.

At least 40 homes near Rifle were evacuated as the wildfire grew to several hundred acres in just a few hours Thursday, destroying at least four outbuildings and threatening a tourist lodge, officials said.

The fire was reported south of Rulison, near County Road 320 and Porcupine Creek, south of Interstate 70 and the Colorado River.

Residents in several homes in the area were also advised to leave if they felt they were in danger as crews aided by two air tankers battled the flames, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario told radio station KMTS-FM.

The fire was moving west, toward the Morrisania Mesa subdivision, according to the Glenwood Springs Post.

Vallario estimated the size of the fire at between 1,500 and 1,800 acres (between 2.3 miles and 2.8 miles). Evacuees were being sent to Rifle City Hall.

At least 50 homes were threatened and the tourist lodge was in imminent danger, said Larry Helmerick of the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center. Helmerick did not immediately know the name of the tourist lodge.

Smoke from the fire was visible from as far away as New Castle and Parachute.

The fire was reported at about 3:30 p.m. in the rural area that has home scattered on plots ranging from 5 acres to ranches with more than 100 acres, Vallario said.

A cause has not been determined, but lightning was reported in the area about the time the fire started.

Molly Glasschroeder, who answered the phone at the Brickyard Square restaurant in Rifle, said the fire was burning about 10 miles away from her town.

"I can see the smoke out the back door," she said. "Big, huge amounts of black smoke, "
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