416 Fire: San Juan National Forest Will Re-Open On Thursday

June 20, 2018
Photo: 416 Fire | June 10 Sat Photo Digital Globe - AP
This June 10, 2018, satellite image provide by DigitalGlobe shows the 416 Fire northwest of Hermosa, Colo. At right Highway 550 is visible.

The sprawling national forest closed on June 12 because of extreme fire danger in southwestern Colorado will re-open Thursday after getting steady rain.

An announcement from the San Juan National Forest Wednesday said that up to 1.5 inches of rain fell in some parts of the 2,800 square mile forest over two days, more than typically falls during an entire average June.

Meteorologists and fire behavior experts say fire conditions have moderated, and don't expect them to return to extreme conditions before the expected arrival of summer monsoon.

The rain, remnants of Hurricane Bud, put a damper on a wildfire that has burned 53 square miles north of Durango.

Residents of over 2,000 evacuated homes have all been allowed back. The last remaining evacuation orders, affecting about 100 homes, were lifted Tuesday.

The fire has been smoldering since the rains but it hasn't been extinguished. Crews are working to build containment lines before drier weather could cause the fire to flare up.

The fire started June 1 in the San Juan National Forest and has burned about 53 square miles.

In the meantime, Silverton's annual Independence Day fireworks display have been called off because of the high fire danger. The fireworks are usually part of an all day celebration that draws thousands of people to the former mining town, its biggest crowd of the year. However, Silverton Area Chamber of Commerce director DeAnne Gallegos said Tuesday that other parts of the celebration, including live music and a parade that ends with a water fight with firefighters, will go on as normal.

Gallegos says businesses have reported a 60 to 95 percent drop in revenue because of periodic closures of the only highway to town and the suspension of tourist railroad service due to the 416 Fire.