ABC’s Carol McKinley & Clayton Sandell report:
Officials are sounding more optimistic today about the fate of tiny South Fork, Colo., saying an overnight shift in the wind is no longer railroading flames directly toward town.
No homes have been lost in South Fork, and the fire is still three to five miles away, according to federal and local officials.
The “West Fork Complex” — a combination of two giant wildfires burning in southwestern Colorado — has blackened about 42,000 acres, or roughly 65 square miles of forest.
“Nothing has breached the town,” South Fork Police Chief James Chavez tells ABC News. “We’re still here.”
However, there are red flag fire weather warnings in effect today, and Chavez says fire crews are still on high alert.
“The winds could still change, so we’re playing a waiting game with this fire,” Chavez said.
Another thing South Fork has going for it is the fire that had been chewing through dead, dry, beetle-killed stands of forest is now burning in living ponderosa and aspen trees, meaning the fire doesn’t burn as extremely hot.
About four hundred permanent residents of South Fork are still evacuated. Officials have not said when they think those people can go back home.
South Fork has often served as a Hollywood backdrop. It’s where the Griswold family stopped to camp in the 1983 film “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” The area around South Fork is also where the cast and crew came to shoot the new Disney film, “The Lone Ranger.” (Disney is the parent company of ABC.)