Eintime Conversion for education and research 10-20-2007 @ 07:24:18
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Colorado wildfire destroys 3 homes

MESA, Colo. (AP) — A wind-swept wildfire destroyed three homes and damaged a fourth in this small western Colorado town, but no injuries were reported, authorities said Friday.

The fire broke out Thursday night in Mesa, 175 miles west of Denver, and scorched about 10 acres before it was nearly contained by early Friday, said Mike Page, a spokesman for the firefighters. The cause was under investigation.

"It's a real deep canyon and the fire got down inside there and made it real difficult," said Page, who is from nearby Grand Junction and was helping with the Mesa operation.

Page said about 45 homes were evacuated but residents have been allowed to return.

Fire Chief Mike Harvey said the cause was under investigation but he suspected it was human-caused because no storms were in the area when the fire broke out.

Harvey said close-in vegetation helped the flames jump from house to house.

A second fire in New Castle, about 40 miles northwest of Mesa, also was nearly contained and residents of at least 60 homes were allowed to return. At the peak of the fire, 90 homes were evacuated. Some of those homes had been threatened by the 1994 Storm King Fire, which claimed the lives of 14 firefighters.

The size of the New Castle fire was revised downward after more precise mapping Thursday, from 1,800 acres to 1,240 acres. It was caused by lightning.

A third fire that burned more than 1,000 acres in remote and rugged country 75 miles west of New Castle was nearly contained Friday.

(Original Len: 1905 Condensed Len: 1981)

10-20-2007 @ 07:24:18