Residents of San Juan County who have been evacuated for the 416 Fire will be allowed to return home beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to a news release issued Tuesday by La Plata County government.
The decision to allow residents to return is based on predicted fire behavior and progress made by firefighters working on the fire, the release said.
HERMOSA – The ominous plume north of Durango churned for an eleventh day Monday, putting up periodic puffs of black smoke as the blaze found pockets of thick vegetation – some discovered by natural fire progression, others from burnouts, in which firefighters set their own fires to starve the 416 fire of fuel.
Dozens of hand crews built fire lines around homes, removed vegetation and conducted burnouts on the south side of County Road 202 near Hermosa. The burnouts require care and precision: Fires are set to various parts of a hillside and allowed to run into each other as they move up the mountain. It is a controlled process with fuels removed piecemeal, thereby preventing a massive inferno.
The 416 fire had grown to more than 22,130 acres as of Monday morning – the most recent estimate available – and remained 10 percent contained as of Monday night. More pre-evacuation notices came Monday – issued for 127 homes along County Road 205. Evacuation orders remain in effect for 2,156 residences.