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CNN Today

Colorado Fires Threaten to Rage Out of Firefighters' Control

Aired June 15, 2000 - 2:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Two big fires in Colorado are growing today in size and intensity. Strong winds are feeding the fires, increasing the risk to anyone and anything that get in the way. The fires have burned more than 13,000 acres, at last count, had destroyed nearly 50 homes. So far, three firefighters have suffered injuries. About 1500 are on the scene.

CNN's Rusty Dornin joins us again from Park County, Colorado with the latest -- Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, the winds have really picked up over the last hour. Firefighters' worst fears are becoming a reality. We couldn't see any smoke for most of the morning here. And about a half hour ago, flames back about a mile and a half from here, began billowing forth black smoke. We were occasionally able to see flames in the sky there. The hot, dry, windy conditions, it's been a red flag day for firefighters. They knew that this could happen, the possibility that the fire could start spreading.

Now, earlier today, firefighters had packed up, were planning for an aggressive assault. The problem is, it's very difficult to get close to the fire when it's burning out of control, when the winds are this erratic and burning from different directions. Now in the (INAUDIBLE) told that things could easily get out of hand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHANE DELGRASSO, FIRE BEHAVIOR ANALYST: They think is what we're going to see is this fire is going to become very active. With blow- up conditions, we expect some runs. And we're going to see the flame lengths and fire intensity exceed the capabilities of our resources.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DORNIN: Now, that's maybe what we're seeing right now, although we were told that the helicopters and bombers would not be in the air. We just saw a helicopter that was flying through the smoke a short while ago. So, firefighters have engaged in a frontal assault on this particular fire, the High Meadows fire, which is southwest of Denver.

They are hoping, of course, for the front to come in tonight, cooler temperatures and moisture. But if the winds get out of hand this afternoon, this fire could spread to a lot longer area.

Rusty Dornin, reporting live near Bailey, Colorado.

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