DENVER (AP) -- Firefighting crews turned their attention from battling flames to preventing flooding in areas where wildfires burned off vegetation that had been protecting thousands of acres of soil.
Just a tenth of an inch of rain in the wrong area could send water and debris streaming down Mitchell Creek toward homes in Glenwood Springs, said Guy Meyer of Garfield County Emergency Management. Two hundred homes there, once threatened by fire, were evacuated for several hours Thursday because of the threat of flooding.
On Saturday, rain was falling just to the north of the fire zone and there was a chance of thunderstorms across the state.
Firefighters scattered straw on the ground and trucked in concrete barriers to build channels that could divert rainwater away from homes. Without the diversions, rain falling on hillsides where intense fires stripped the soil bare of living organisms rolls off the ground as if it were asphalt.
"We're going to probably leave this up there for at least two years until that area is vegetated and the threat of mudslides dissipates," Meyer said.
The area near Glenwood Springs was ravaged by a wildfire that burned 138,000 acres, destroyed 29 homes and crept to within a few miles of Denver's southern suburbs before it was contained Tuesday.
Near Durango, firefighters were gaining the upper hand on a separate 73,145-acre wildfire that was 75 percent contained. Four ranches and 34 homes remained evacuated.
Wildfires also burned Friday in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
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