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Evacuations ordered in Colorado and Utah as crews battle new blazes

Blazes roaring through Colorado and Utah have pushed people from their homes, with adverse weather conditions hampering firefighters’ efforts.

A new fire broke out in Boulder County, Colorado, on Sunday as firefighters continued to fight the CalWood fire, which has become the county’s biggest blaze on record since it began Saturday.

Two wildfires are also believed to have broken out in Utah on Saturday, burning more than 3,000 acres in less than a day, according to posts on Twitter from Utah Fire Info.

The Range Fire, burning just outside the city of Orem, has prompted the evacuation of about 10 homes as it burned 1,500 acres. It is 0% contained, the post said. Meanwhile the Fire Canyon Fire is estimated to be burning through 1,600 acres, but it is not currently threatening any structures.

The causes of both are under investigation, but the Fire Canyon Fire is believed to be human-caused, according to the post.

A new wildfire in Boulder County called the Lefthand Canyon Fire sparked Sunday, prompting an evacuation order for the town of Ward, a tweet from the Boulder Office of Emergency Management said.

Some 145 homes were ordered to evacuate, another tweet from Boulder OEM said.

Sunday evening, Boulder County Sheriff’s Office Division Chief Mike Wagner said the fire had been contained after charring an estimated 312 acres.

Ward is about 15 miles southwest of Jamestown, where the CalWood fire started Saturday prompting evacuations.

Both towns are in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, northwest of the city of Boulder.

The CalWood fire sparked around noon Saturday north of Jamestown, Colorado, and quickly spread.

As of Sunday evening, the CalWood was approximately 8,788 acres and was 15% contained, Wagner said during a press briefing.

He said at least 26 homes had been destroyed Saturday and damage teams would return Monday to survey the fire area.

At a press briefing earlier Sunday, Wagner said CalWood was the largest wildfire by acreage in Boulder County history.

Some 250 firefighters are in the field working to establish a direct line around the perimeter of the CalWood fire, Wagner said.

“That’s one of their number one thing is try to keep the fire knocked down and protect structures that have not been impacted by the fire yet,” Wagner said.

Wagner said Saturday night that 1,600 homes and 2,600 structures were included within the perimeter of the mandatory evacuation zone, with about 3,000 people affected.

Weather conditions had so far prevented air operations planned for Sunday, he said.

“The plan was to try to hit the fire really heavy with air resources this morning there were a number of aircraft on order with the conditions you see down here, and visibility aircraft can’t fly,” Wagner said. “So as soon as the weather resolves incident command is hoping to be able to utilize their resources to again attack the firewall.”

Additional resources, including a federal firefighting team, were scheduled to arrive in the area later, Wagner said.

Several roads in the area are closed as firefighters work to suppress the CalWood fire and 80 law enforcement officers are being used to secure the perimeter of the fire and patrol the area to protect property, Wagner said.

A joint investigation has been launched for the CalWood fire by the Boulder Sheriff’s office and the US Forest Service, Wagner said.

In addition to the CalWood blaze, firefighters in Colorado also continue to battle the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in state history. The fire is burning near the city of Fort Collins in the northern part of the state, which prompted new mandatory evacuations Friday night. It has burned more than 200,000 acres and is 62% contained, according to the fire incident website InciWeb.

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