National Guard crews will drop fire retardant on a 400-acre brush fire burning in two state wildlife areas in Bent County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife tweeted Friday afternoon.

The slurry will hopefully aid the 42 firefighters from 15 agencies working to contain the blaze, which is running across cattail marsh, tamarisk, cottonwood and other river bottom brush in the John Martin Reservoir and Fort Lyon state wildlife areas.

Seven homes have been evacuated, but none have been destroyed. No injuries have been reported.

The blaze sparked Thursday night near the Bent County Correctional Facility, said county Emergency Manager Rick Stwalley. More evacuations are possible later Friday if gusty winds enter the area and push the flames toward other structures.

"Where the evacuations are pinned depends on the winds," Stwalley said Friday morning.

The area is under a red flag — an indication of "critical fire weather conditions," according to the weather service — until 7 p.m. Friday. An air quality health advisory for wildfire smoke also was issued for northern portions of the county, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment tweeted.

Winds first started to pick up mid-afternoon Thursday. Just before 7 p.m., the weather service had recorded 16 mph winds with a 24 mph gust. Steady winds between 5 and 15 mph were reported overnight.

Winds picked up again early Friday, rising to 21 mph with a 31 mph gust just before 4 a.m.

Winds have stayed fairly slow — between 3 and 15 mph — since Friday morning. Just before 3 p.m., the weather service reported "calm" winds.

Showers and thunderstorms are possible after 3 p.m. Saturday.

Twitter: @lizmforster

Phone: 636-0193

Liz Forster is a general assignment reporter with a focus on environment and public safety. She is a Colorado College graduate, avid hiker and skier, and sweet potato enthusiast. Liz joined The Gazette in June 2017.

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