Colorado news roundup: Crews trying to stamp out southern Colorado wildfire | SummitDaily.com

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Colorado news roundup: Crews trying to stamp out southern Colorado wildfire

Public safety

Crews trying to stamp out southern Colorado wildfire

WESTCLIFFE, Colo. — Firefighters helped by improved weather conditions were trying Tuesday to stop the spread of a wildfire that has forced the evacuation of hundreds of people in southern Colorado and destroyed at least two homes.

Taking advantage of light winds, crews were building containment lines along the north side of the fire to prevent it from spreading with stronger winds from the south forecast to develop later in the day, fire operations section chief Dan Dallas said.

The winds were not expected to gust as strongly as as they did on Monday, when the wildfire started east of the small town of Westcliffe near the Rocky Mountain foothills and spread to 24 square miles.

No part of the fire perimeter was considered contained.

Authorities confirmed Tuesday a second home had been destroyed in addition to one reported scorched on Monday. Officials hope to get a better view of the fire’s damage on Tuesday, said fire spokeswoman Dawn Sanchez of the U.S. Forest Service.

Custer County Sheriff Shannon Byerly extended his sympathies to people who lost property.

“It’s a tough situation and hopefully we can stop additional losses,” he said.

The cause of the fire was unknown. But a stretch of dry, warm weather has raised the fire danger in much of Colorado, especially on windy days.

Residents of 175 homes were ordered to evacuate Monday and people who live in 70 other homes have been warned to be ready to leave in case the fire spreads toward them.

Those on standby include the residents of the town of Beulah, which was evacuated earlier this month because of another wildfire.

That fire is believed to have been started by an excavator operator working in a ditch, possibly by creating a spark.

Courts

Planned Parenthood gunman says he’s been forcibly medicated

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A man who killed three people and injured nine more in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs says he’s been forcibly medicated while being held at the state psychiatric hospital.

Robert Lewis Dear Jr. made the claim Tuesday while entering a courtroom for a hearing, but it wasn’t immediately clear if it was true.

The Gazette reports that Dear’s attorney said in court that the forced medication issue was addressed at a previously unannounced hearing last week in Pueblo, home of the Colorado Mental Health Institute. District Attorney Dan May confirmed there was a hearing, but he also didn’t disclose its result.

Dear has been held at the hospital since May when a judge ruled he wasn’t fit to continue his legal proceedings.

Trial of man accused of stabbing CU Boulder student underway

BOULDER, Colo. — The trial of a man accused of fatally stabbing a fellow University of Colorado student during an argument is underway.

Testimony began Tuesday in Boulder in the trial of 22-year-old Ian Scheuermann, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the Dec. 12 death of 26-year-old Sean Hudson, of Greenfield, Indiana.

Investigators say Hudson was stabbed six times, including in the heart and in the neck, during an argument that started over disparaging remarks Scheuermann reportedly made about a woman.

The Daily Camera reports that Scheuermann’s attorney has said his client was acting in self-defense. Police say he told them Hudson shoved him to the ground and hit him in the face.

Government

State approves Greeley drilling, upsetting some neighbors

GREELEY, Colo. — Some Colorado residents are unhappy after the state approved oil and gas drilling on a Greeley plot.

The Greeley Tribune reports that staff at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved a permit by Extraction Oil and Gas on Friday. It will allow the company to drill 22 oil and gas wells on land surrounded by neighborhoods in west Greeley.

The permit gives the controversial Triple Creek project the go-ahead after a delay of several months.

Triple Creek was the first large-scale project approved under new state rules meant to protect residents from encroaching oil and gas development. Neighbors say now that the regulations don’t seem to be working.

In a statement, the state oil and gas commission says the facility is designed to eliminate or minimize the impacts of the development.

Politics

Bernie Sanders, in Colorado, promotes universal health care

BOULDER, Colo. — Bernie Sanders has urged hundreds of people in two Colorado appearances to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and for a ballot measure to set up the nation’s first universal health care system.

The Coloradoan reports that the Vermont senator touched on climate change, immigration, job creation and other themes in backing former rival Clinton during a Monday appearance at Colorado State University.

Sanders later promoted Amendment 69, the universal coverage measure, in a speech at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The $25 billion plan would eliminate private insurance in favor of a 10 percent “premium tax,” with the state covering health expenses. Employers would share employees’ costs.

Sanders defeated Clinton in Colorado’s Democratic presidential caucuses in March.

­— Associated Press reports