Multiple people have been evacuated with more possibly to follow as a 300- to 400-acre brush fire burning Friday in Bent County continues to spread.
Six fire departments are working to halt the blaze, but Bent County Emergency Manager Rick Stwalley expects gusty winds entering the area to fuel the flames.
“Right now we have seven people evacuated, but we expect to increase that in the afternoon because of the red flag warning,” Stwalley said. “Where evacuation will be pinned depends on the fire behavior.”
The red flag warning — an indication of “critical fire weather conditions,” according to the weather service — will be in effect for the area between noon and 7 p.m. Friday.
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Stwalley said the acreage estimate was preliminary. A state plane is flying over the fire to map the exact perimeter.
The blaze sparked Thursday night in a riverbed near the Bent County Correctional Facility but has shifted toward the Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community in Las Animas.
Smoke could be seen from a distance, according to radio station Big Country 92.1.
Winds first started to pick up mid-afternoon Thursday. Just before 7 p.m., the weather service had recorded 16 mph winds with a 24 mph gust. Steady winds between 5 and 15 mph were reported overnight.
Winds picked up again early Friday, rising to 21 mph with a 31 mph gust just before 4 a.m.
The weather service expects winds to blow west southwest between 10 to 15 mph in the morning, shifting south in the afternoon. Tonight, speeds will pick up to 15 to 25 mph before dropping to 5 to 15 mph after midnight.
Showers and thunderstorms are possible after 3 p.m. Saturday.
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