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Colorado again plagued by wildfires; 14 homes burned

October 24, 2012|By Joseph Serna

Firefighters are struggling to control a wildfire in southern Colorado that has burned 14 homes and scorched more than 1,700 acres.

More than 130 firefighters from 16 agencies statewide have been battling high winds and flames since Tuesday in Wetmore, a community about two hours south of Denver.

Winds reached upward of 50 mph Tuesday and are projected to top 30 mph Wednesday,  U.S. Forest Service spokesman Ralph Bellah told the Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOS: U.S. wildfires 2012

"Wind gusts in the 30s is very bad," Bellah said. "If the winds don't show up, we should be able to utilize our aviation resources."

Tuesday's weather kept air water tankers grounded, but calm weather early Wednesday allowed small tankers to fly into action.

Firefighters haven't contained any of the blaze, Bellah said, and more than 350 people have been evacuated from the area to nearby motels or Red Cross emergency centers. The 14 families who lost their homes Tuesday will be notified Wednesday, he said.

Wildfires last raged in the area two years ago, but the current blaze is scorching everything left untouched during the last one, Bellah said.

The Wetmore blaze is one of four that firefighters are battling across the state. Crews have also been dispatched to a pair of fires in the southwest of the state, each of which have burned more than 300 acres, and a 900-acre blaze in the north.

"It's been an aggressive fire season," Micki Trost of the Colorado Office of Emergency Management told The Times.

A fire over the summer in the Colorado Springs area destroyed at least 386 homes and killed two people, making it the most destructive in state history.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

twitter.com/@josephserna

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