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Light rains alleviate Colorado wildfires

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, left, and Fremont County Sheriff Ivan Middlemiss survey damage Tuesday near Canon City.  

LAKEWOOD, Colorado (CNN) -- A break in the weather Tuesday gave firefighters in Colorado a chance to make headway against wildfires that have consumed 24,000 acres and still threaten residences and property in the southeastern part of the state.

Officials reported light rains throughout the day at the Iron Mountain and Spring fire areas, where the flames destroyed an estimated 100 residences and dozens of outbuildings Sunday and Monday. There have been no reports of serious injuries or deaths from the fires.

Bill Rice, with the fire information office of the Rocky Mountain Area Coordinating Center, said the rains and cooler temperatures gave firefighters a break in combating blazes that have burned some 4,400 acres at the Iron Mountain area, 12 miles north of Westcliffe.

"Ground forces were able to work pretty hard on the area, and we should see improvement in containment," Rice said.

A chance of more rain and cooler weather brought hope to firefighters battling a 4,400-acre blaze that has destroyed at least 85 homes in Colorado. CNN's Lorie Hirose reports (June 5)

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Rice said about 320 firefighters and support personnel continued to shore up fire lines around the perimeter of the blaze.

He said low clouds prevented planes carrying flame retardant from being deployed from Pueblo earlier in the day. The planes were expected to begin operations later, he said.

In the Spring area, seven miles west of Trinidad, the fires have burned more than 20,000 acres. Officials said the Tuesday rains were not enough to put the fires out but would give firefighters a chance to work without interruption.

"We're going to be at it probably pretty heavy for the next few days," said Allen Hoffmeister, information officer with the Animas County sheriff's office.

Hoffmeister said about 200 firefighters and support personnel from several agencies battled the fire Tuesday, mainly by extending containment lines around its perimeter.

Rice said firefighters were worried about a drying trend and higher winds predicted for later in the week. He said some 300 residences in the Iron Mountain area were still considered threatened by the fire.




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