PUEBLO - Firefighters say calmer weather has helped them handle a blaze that destroyed at least eight homes and scorched about 8 square miles in southern Colorado.
Three helicopters and three air tankers, along with about 400 firefighters on the ground, battled the wildfire near Beulah on Tuesday, preventing additional evacuations.
The fire was reported near the small town Monday and quickly spread in winds that gusted up to 50 mph. All people living in the town and the surrounding valley southwest of Pueblo - about 1,950 residents - were ultimately ordered to leave the area after the flames spread in various directions.
They have not yet been allowed to return home.
"The Beulah Hill Fire moves quickly, reduces visibility and cuts off escape routes with little notice," Taylor's statement read. "History has shown the best time to evacuate is when the fire allows you to evacuate.
"... The fire is on both sides of the valley and if either flank moves toward the valley, we may lose lives."
Residents in the Beulah Valley area are asked to take Highway 78 to evacuate to Pueblo, where there is a shelter at the Colorado State Fair.
The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at Roncalli Middle School. The shelter has been opened to accommodate those people being evacuated due to the Beulah Hill Fire. Red Cross volunteers will be on scene to provide light refreshments and information.
Animal shelter is available for small animals at Pueblo Animal Services, located at 4600 Eagle Ridge Pl. Colorado State Fair is being used for large animals.
The fire forced the post office in the area to relocate to Pueblo-Sunset Station. There were 750 addresses impacted by that move.
The USPS says the post office was not one of the structures that was lost.
Cooler weather Tuesday could help crews gain ground. The blaze – which was fueled by winds and dry conditions -- broke out at around 1 p.m. Monday.
There’s no word yet on what caused the fire. Our partners at KOAA in Colorado Springs will follow this story overnight: http://bit.ly/2dqV58j
HOW TO HELP:
Agencies in the area are not currently accepting cash donations. You can donate to the care of animals in the evacuation zone here: https://www.hsppr.org/donate
To report animals left behind, call Pueblo Animal Services at 719-544-3005, press 0 for Animal Law Enforcement and then press 1 for emergency to reach officers.
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