South Fork Colorado endangered by wildfire, blaze spreads to nearly 100 square miles

DEL NORTE, Colo. (AP) -- A wildfire threatening a tourist region in southwestern Colorado has mushroomed to nearly 100 square miles.

But fire officials said Saturday night that they are still optimistic they can protect the town of South Fork.

Officials provided an estimate of the size of the wildfire burning through a rugged and remote mountainous region, but say they won't know for sure until infrared imaging is done overnight.

The fire's rapid advance prompted the evacuation of hundreds of summer visitors and South Fork's 400 permanent residents Friday, and it could be days before people are allowed back into their homes, cabins and RV parks, fire crew spokeswoman Laura McConnell said.

South Fork Mayor Kenneth Brooke estimated that 1,000 to 1,500 people were forced to flee.

Despite everything, officials say no structures had been lost and the fire was still about 5 miles from the town.