Firefighters are working to contain a blaze that broke out in Las Animas County earlier this week as it grew to more than 11,000 acres, the Colorado Department of Public Safety said Saturday.

Lightning caused a small fire 10 miles northwest of Kim about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday "in a remote location with steep canyons and cliffs," officials said. Called the Cherry Canyon fire, it increased to 11,089 acres by Sunday morning, thanks to wind, high temperature and relative humidity.

The fire is 30% contained while four isolated structures are threatened. No injuries have been reported.

Several agencies — including Las Animas County Emergency Management and Kim Volunteer Fire Department — have responded, in addition to air support and single-engine air tankers. Firefighters are working to keep the fire north of U.S. 160, east of County Road 179 and west of Colorado 109, officials said.

"Safety is the number one priority and as such, strategies moving forward include maintaining firefighter and public safety by utilizing sound risk management actions and utilizing suppression activities that guide the fire into natural barriers," the state's public safety department said in a statement. "Additionally, minimizing the potential impacts of COVID-19 through the practice of social distancing, proper personal hygiene and regular cleaning."

Officials also said Las Animas County is under Stage 1 fire restrictions "due not only to the potential for high winds, but the moisture content of potential fuels at lower elevations as well as the limited resources available to combat a large-scale fire due to the COVID-19 restrictions."

Firefighters are also assisting in another blaze — dubbed the 466 fire — 15 miles northeast of the Cherry Canyon fire. It is about 120 acres and has not been contained, officials said early Sunday.


Chhun Sun is a sports reporter with an emphasis in preps. He joined The Gazette in April 2015 and covered public safety for three years before joining @gazettepreps staff. The Thailand-born Cambodian-American has been in journalism for nearly two decades.

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