The Latest: Colorado suspect says he tried to put out fire

GUINDA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning in the Western United States (all times local):

1:05 p.m.

Authorities say a man accused of starting a southern Colorado wildfire that forced residents of more than 2,000 homes to evacuate has acknowledged building a fire but said he made sure it was out.

A court document says 52-year-old Jesper Joergensen initially said he had started a fire to burn trash but then said he had been grilling in a permanent fire pit the day before the blaze began. Joergensen, who reported the wildfire, said it started about 20 feet (6 meters) away from the fire pit Wednesday and he tried to put it out.

The arrest affidavit says about 25 buildings had been destroyed as of Thursday, when he was arrested.

The document says Joergensen, who is from Denmark, has been living in the country illegally. It’s not clear if he has a lawyer.


This item has been corrected to say that more than 2,000 homes have been evacuated by the fire.


12:15 p.m.

A fire official says a massive wildfire tearing through rural Northern California is burning 1.5 square miles (4 square kilometers) of rugged terrain an hour.

Gabe Lauderbale, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Monday that hot temperatures and gusty winds are contributing to the fast spread of the blaze in sparsely populated areas of Yolo and Napa counties.

Lauderbale says about 300 people are under mandatory evacuation orders and more than 100 buildings are under threat in the area that’s home to cattle and horse ranches.

He says slightly cooler temperatures are forecast later Monday but gusty winds that could spread the blaze are also expected.


10:45 a.m.

Forecasters say the threat of wildfires will diminish in the U.S. Southwest this month but increase in the Northwest and along much of the California coast.

The National Interagency Fire Center said Sunday that the summer monsoon should bring enough rain to Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico in early July to reduce the risk of major fires.

But the danger remains high through the end of July in Utah and parts of California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

By August, the threat spreads across much of the Northwest, extending east into most of Montana. The danger in the Northwest is expected to persist through September.

The fire center updates the outlook every month from its headquarters in Boise, Idaho.


9:20 a.m.

More than 2,500 homes in Colorado are under evacuation orders as firefighters battle more than a half dozen wildfires around the state.

Most of the evacuations in effect Monday were due to a 78-square-mile (202-square-kilometer) wildfire in southern Colorado that authorities believe was human-caused.

The Costilla County Sheriff’s Office says 52-year-old Jesper Joergensen of Denmark was arrested on arson charges. Investigators haven’t released other details except to say they don’t think he intentionally started the fire.

Immigration officials have requested that they be allowed to take custody of him if he’s released from jail.

About 570 homes are evacuated near a 2-square-mile (6-square-kilometer) fire that started Friday west of Colorado Springs. About 360 children at a camp also had to be evacuated by the Chateau Fire.


9:20 a.m.

Firefighters trying to contain a wildfire burning in southern Wyoming are facing warm and dry weather.

About 150 firefighters are battling the fire burning in the Medicine Bow National Forest near the Colorado border. The fire has burned about 33 square miles (85 square kilometers) since it started June 10.

The fire is about 80 percent contained but it has flared up in the last week, prompting authorities to advise some residents in the area to prepare for evacuation.

But all major highways in the area are open Monday. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


8:50 a.m.

A wildfire burning in hot and dry conditions in Utah has forced the evacuations of a handful of seasonal cabins near a popular fishing reservoir.

Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forest, Fire and State Lands said Monday that the fire has scorched about 10 square miles (28 square kilometers) near Strawberry Reservoir.

Curry says the blaze about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southeast of Salt Lake City started Sunday and officials believe it was human-caused but are investigating.

The fire is threatening about seven to 10 cabins that are used as seasonal homes, not primary residences.

He says the fire is expected to grow with hot and dry conditions forecast for Monday. Similar weather is fueling blazes in several Western states.


8:50 a.m.

Officials say a wildfire in Northern California grew dramatically overnight and is largely burning out of control.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the fire northwest of Sacramento scorched at least 70 square miles (180 square kilometers) by Monday morning.

It is threatening 100 buildings and has forced evacuations. It grew from 55 square miles (142 square kilometers) reported Sunday night and is just 3 percent contained.

Cal Fire says strong winds, high temperatures and low humidity are fueling the blaze.

No injuries were reported and the exact number of people evacuated was unclear. Smoke and ash are contributing to poor air quality in the San Francisco Bay Area and California wine country.

Hot, dry conditions are fueling blazes in several Western states.


7:55 a.m.

Hot winds fueling a massive wildfire that prompted evacuations in rural Northern California have pushed the flames into a neighboring county.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Monday that the blaze that ignited Saturday in western Yolo County spread over the weekend to neighboring Napa County.

The fast-moving fire has scorched at least 55 square miles (142 square kilometers) of dry brush and threatened more than 100 buildings in ranchland northwest of Sacramento.

No injuries were reported and the exact number of people evacuated was unclear. Smoke and ash are contributing to poor air quality in the San Francisco Bay Area and California wine country.

It comes as hot, dry conditions are fueling blazes in several Western states.


This version corrects blaze is burning in two counties, not three.

Categories: California News