WATCH: New wildfire erupts near Colorado ski resorts

A wildfire erupted on Tuesday, 12 June, in an area of Colorado known for its ski resorts, forcing the evacuation of more than 1 300 homes and marking the latest in a series of blazes that have ignited in the drought-stricken US West.

The fire in central Colorado had burned only about 100 acres but was dangerously close to two densely populated housing developments near the town of Silverthorne, about 97 kilometres west of Denver.

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"This area, there is a lot of homes that are pretty tightly packed together," US Forest Service spokesman Adam Bianchi said. "Being a resort town, there's a need for a lot of housing and there's only so much available space for good land to build on."

Bianchi said the Buffalo Fire had come to within about 183 metres of a subdivision that includes condos, apartments and pricey homes. The closest ski resort to the fire, Keystone, is about 12.8 kilometres away and across a large reservoir.

About 50 firefighters were battling the blaze initially, but more were on the way, along with heavy air tankers and helicopters.

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"I was absolutely shocked by how fast it spread," Silverthorne resident Jake Schulman told The Summit Daily after spotting the fire while hiking.

"There were big black rolling clouds coming off it and it had gotten to the edge of the forest, right next to the neighbourhood," he added.

wildfires in Colorado

Helicopter works the wildfire on the east side of Hermosa Cliffs near Hermosa, Colorado. (Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP)

The fire had not destroyed any homes as of Tuesday night.

Colorado's largest blaze also kept burning in the San Juan National Forest, which has been closed to the public to try to prevent additional fires. The 416 Fire north of Durango in southwest Colorado has burned about 93 square kilometres and is partially contained. No homes have been lost.

It's burning in the Four Corners region where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet that is at the centre of a large patch of exceptional drought. Much of the US West is experiencing some level of drought.

More than 900 firefighters were dealing with rough and inaccessible terrain, and residents of more than 2 000 homes have been forced to evacuate since the flames ignited 1 June.

Fear of dangerous fire season

Meanwhile, additional firefighters were headed to Wyoming to work on a wildfire that has exploded in size and prompted evacuations near the Colorado border.

The Badger Creek Fire grew rapidly on Monday, 11 June, because of strong winds and dry conditions and had scorched about 9.3 square kilometres of mostly beetle-killed forest. Several small communities of permanent and seasonal residences were ordered evacuated, but no buildings were burned.

Large wildfires also forced evacuations farther west.

wildfires in Colorado

The sky turns red as the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains in Denver. Several wildfires in Colorado as well as numerous other fires in the interior West have filled the region with high levels of smoke in the air. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

In central Utah, a wildfire fed by dry conditions and swift winds consumed more than 26 square kilometres and burned a cabin. The Trail Mountain Fire began as a prescribed burn but grew out of control last week.

A wildfire burning grass and brush in central Washington threatened several dozen homes and other infrastructure, while more than 250 firefighters raced to the hills overlooking Los Angeles to battle a blaze in thick brush surrounded by large homes.

The latest fires are stoking fears that a dry winter will lead to a dangerous fire season this summer in the West.

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