Colorado wildfire scorches woodland, at least 1,000 people evacuated

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(Reuters) – A wildfire near the University of Colorado in Boulder burned through about 62 acres (25 hectares) of woodland on Sunday, prompting authorities to urge at least 1,000 people to evacuate the drought-hit region.

The fire in Sunshine Canyon, just outside the university town, started before dawn on Sunday and is about 20 percent contained, with no injuries or damage to structures reported, said Denise White, a spokeswoman for the Boulder Emergency Operations Center.

Authorities have contacted 1,000 people and told them to leave the area, she said. The number could cover individual households or multiple people in a single home.

“From what we’ve got right now, a lot of the fire is in open space,” she said. “We do have some evacuations in place.”

The fire was fanned by winds that the National Weather Service forecast could gust to 33 miles per hour (53 kph) during the afternoon, with temperatures expected to be near 80 Fahrenheit (27 Celsius).

A wide swath of northeastern Colorado is under a National Weather Service “red flag” warning for wildfires. Much of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Nebraska are in drought conditions ranging from moderate to extreme, the agency said.

Prairie fires stoked by high winds and tinder-dry vegetation raged across 1.5 million acres (600,000 hectares) of the southern Great Plains early this month, killing at least six people and prompting thousands of people to be evacuated.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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