Tom McGhee and Bruce Finley
The Denver Post

West Fork fire grows to 70,000 acres in Colorado, cabins threatened

The West Fork fire gained ground overnight into Sunday, growing about 4,000 acres to an estimated 70,257 acres, and continuing its threat to tourist towns on the west edge of Colorado's San Luis Valley.

The Papoose wildfire, now part of the West Fork Fire Complex, increased in size in an area about 15 miles southwest of Creede and south of the Rio Grande River, said Steve Till, a spokesman for the National Incident Management Organization.

Firefighters are setting blazes around cabins that lie in the path of the fire in order to halt the encroaching flames and protect the structures.

"They are trying to keep the fire from crossing (Highway 149), that will make life easier for the people in Creede and our cabin owners," Till said Sunday.

In some places, spruce beetles have killed up to 90 percent of trees, turning sprawling stands of timber into tinder-dry fuel.

On Saturday, the West Fork fire complex was fed by chaotic and often-intense winds and was the largest of more than a dozen wildfires around the state .

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The VailDaily Updated Jun 23, 2013 11:33AM Published Jun 25, 2013 09:44AM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.