The arrival of monsoon rains this week brought welcome relief from stubborn wildfires burning for weeks throughout Colorado, allowing life to begin to return to normal in most of the affected areas.
With the rains, though, comes a heightened concern about flash flooding.
“One of the main concerns is that we have these fresh and older burn scars … (and) the winds aren’t as strong so (thunderstorms) move a lot slower,” said Bill Line, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo. “If you get a thunderstorm that sits over the burn scar area, it’s more likely to flood.”
Here is a summary of some of the fires burning in the state:
Spring Creek fire
The largest fire burning in the state has torched more than 108.045 acres in Costilla and Huerfano counties.
On Thursday, fire officials said the fire was 91 percent contained, with 100 percent containment south of U.S. 160.
Structure protection continued Wednesday in repopulated areas, and smoke remains visible within the fire perimeter.
The American Red Cross closed its evacuation centers at the Fort Garland/Blanca Community Center and at the Huerfano County Community Center in Walsenburg on Thursday, the organization announced in a news release.
Jesper Joergensen, a Danish immigrant in the country illegally who has been accused of starting the 107,967-acre fire, is facing 141 counts of arson, court records show.
High Chateau fire
Volunteers and animal control officers have been rescuing and rounding up pets and livestock displaced by wildfires as owners quickly evacuated. The Chateau fire, burning in Teller and Park counties, was 100 percent contained July 9. It has burned more than 1,400 acres.
Four volunteers with JeffCo H.E.A.T. (Horse Evacuation Assistance Team) worked with sheriff’s offices, firefighters and animal control staffs to rescue animals, Denver7 reported.
Skunk Creek fire
Firefighters fully contained the 620-acre fire Wednesday, fire officials said. The fire, 30-miles north of Craig near the Wyoming border, received rainfall Tuesday and Wednesday. Fire crews will continue mop-up operations.
Weston Pass fire
Over 13,000 acres continue to burn in the Weston Pass fire, which was 74 percent contained Thursday morning.
Areas west of U.S. 285 and the entire area of the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness remain closed. County Road 22 is open to the public, but areas south of the road are still closed.
The 416 fire, which sparked June 1, was last reported at 54,129 acres and 50 percent containment. Though one of the largest wildfires in Colorado history, no structures were lost and no injuries or fatalities were reported.
“The fire’s pretty much smoldering away at this point,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for the San Juan National Forest. “There’s no active burning.”
The nearby Burro fire was detected June 8 just west of the 416 fire. It was last reported at 4,593 acres and 50 percent containment.
Some major trails and roads in the San Juan National Forest that went untouched by the fires have been reopened. Hikers will be able to access The Colorado Trail.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad resumed full service Thursday after it suspended its operations June 1, The Durango Herald reported.