June 12, 2008 / 8:40 PM / 11 years ago

Colorado fire threatens historic Indian sites

DENVER (Reuters) - A lightning-sparked wildfire has blackened 20,000 acres in southeastern Colorado, and was threatening archeological sites in a national forest, officials said on Thursday.

The blaze has burned through tinder-dry juniper and pinon trees into the canyons of the Comanche National Grassland, the site of numerous historic artifacts, including American Indian rock art, dinosaur tracks and early American ranches.

“The fire could alter the area if it burns the vegetation and subsequent rains erode the sites,” said Steve Segin, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Segin said about 130 firefighters are battling the blaze from the ground and the air. Gusty winds and low humidity have created “extreme fire conditions with very active fire behavior,” he said.

The fire started on Wednesday on the Pinyon Canyon Maneuver Site, a training ground for the U.S. Army about 175 miles

southeast of Denver, said Capt. Gregory Dorman, spokesman for nearby Fort Carson.

No structures have burned and no injuries have been reported, but the fire is zero percent contained, he said.

Reporting by Keith Coffman, editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sandra Maler

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