The latest from the fire:
More homes were placed on pre-evacuation Sunday north of Hermosa despite favorable weather conditions, including an afternoon rain shower on the 2,255-acre blaze 10 miles north of Durango.
The pre-evacuation notice is for residents from Mead Lane, known locally as Cometti Lane, in Hermosa, north along county roads 201, 202 and 203. The 416 Fire’s path into the Hermosa Creek drainage prompted the pre-evacuation notice.
The pre-evacuation is for 261 homes, which is in addition to the 825 homes already evacuated and 760 homes under pre-evacuation. The pre-evacuation area extends north along the west side of U.S. Highway 550 to its intersection with County Road 250. This includes the Pine Acres and Whispering Pines developments.
A CodeRED notification was sent to residents and businesses in the pre-evacuation area and law enforcement personnel are sharing the information door to door.
U.S. Highway 550, which has been closed since Friday afternoon, reopened for limited use Sunday north of Durango.
The highway, which had been closed since about 1 p.m. Friday, will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. It is a limited opening with law enforcement escorting drivers through the closed area from mile markers 35.5 to 43.5.
No vehicles will be allowed to access evacuated homes and subdivisions. Traffic will be restricted to one lane with law enforcement pilot vehicles escorting motorists through the 416 Fire area.
The 416 Fire had grown to 2,255 acres in size and was 10 percent contained Sunday morning 10 miles north of Durango.
A Type II federal team took over command at 6 a.m. The goal for Sunday was to seal off the southern end of the fire and prevent it from jumping U.S. Highway 550. The fire is burning on the west side of the highway, which is mostly forested. But several hundred homes are on the east side of the highway.
Evacuation orders remain in place for about 825 homes, and another 760 homes remain on pre-evacuation notice.
Firefighters planned to build on containment efforts achieved Saturday.
“We’re going to check for hot spots and reinforce the line along the Highway 550 corridor and also the southern area of the fire,” said Vickie Russo, a spokeswoman for the Type II team.
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The team spent the night assessing structure protection efforts on the west side of the highway, which include buildings for the Colorado Department of Transportation and a fire station for the Durango Fire Protection District. The team also assessed the containment line built by the Type III team on the southern edge of the fire.
Crews will scout the northern part of the fire today looking for defensible space to protect structures.
“It’s very steep, it is very rocky, and not really easy to get around,” Russo said. “That’s something we’re currently working on. Our top priority is going to be firefighter safety and trying to engage this fire in a safe way to keep our guys safe. That’s what they’re trying to figure out at this point.”
The Type II team assigned six helicopters to the blaze, along with other Type I, II and III aircraft, Russo said.
Crews hope to receive aid from the weather. There is a 60 percent chance of rain Sunday, but a storm could produce gusty winds, said Megan Stackhouse, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. Winds are expected to be 8 to 12 mph throughout the day, but gusts could reach 40 mph, she said.
“Our biggest concern about the storms is the lightning and the wind,” Russo said. “We’ll see what those bring.”
Several residents have questioned how the 416 Fire received its name. Russo said it is named after the incident number created by dispatchers who received the initial call. The incident number was “000416,” he said.
“For whatever reasons, that’s the number of the fire, so that’s the name they went with,” Russo said.
For people who received a pre-evacuation notice, these steps can improve their safety and expedite departure should an evacuation become necessary.
Inside the house
Pack a bag with clothing and essentials.
Shut off air conditioning and fans.
Shut all windows and doors before leaving.
If you have time, gather paperwork and photographs that cannot be replaced.
Outside the house
Gather flammable items and bring them inside (patio furniture, children’s toys, door mats, trash cans, etc.).
Move propane barbecue appliances away from structures.
Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots for use by firefighters.
Fill water buckets and place them around the house.
Don’t leave sprinklers or water running; this can affect critical water pressure.
Leave exterior lights on so your home is visible to firefighters in the smoke or darkness of night.
Back your car into the driveway with vehicle loaded and all doors and windows closed. Carry your car keys with you.
Locate your pets and keep them nearby.
Prepare livestock for transport and plan to move them to a safe location early.
Pack food and medications for your pets.
Take pictures of the interior of your house to remember and document personal possessions.
Determine what is sentimental and can’t be replaced.