Wildfires sweep drought-stricken Western states

Fierce wind gusts and brutally bone-dry conditions are expected on Thursday across a five-state region where firefighters are wrangling several unrelenting wildfires that have forced thousands of residents to flee their homes.

Red flag warnings have been issued for parts of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, where winds gusts could reach 40 miles (65 km) an hour and humidity drop to 5 percent throughout the day, the National Weather Service said.

Weather conditions along with possible dry lightning from thunderstorms could contribute to “extreme fire behavior” on Thursday in southwest United States where more than two dozen wildfires are currently burning, the service warned.

The largest and most threatening blaze, the 416 Fire, has scorched 27,400 acres (11,088 hectares) of drought-parched grass, brush and timber at the edge of the San Juan National Forest near the southwestern Colorado town of Durango. (Reuters)

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<p>A gigantic plume of smoke rises as the 416 Fire burns near Durango, Colo., Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Photo: Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP) </p>
Near Durango, Colo.

A gigantic plume of smoke rises as the 416 Fire burns near Durango, Colo., Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Photo: Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP)

<p>A wildland firefighter works to contain the flames at the Buffalo Fire site Wednesday, June 13, 2018, near Silverthorne, Colo. (Photo: Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News via AP) </p>
Near Silverthorne, Colo.

A wildland firefighter works to contain the flames at the Buffalo Fire site Wednesday, June 13, 2018, near Silverthorne, Colo. (Photo: Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News via AP)

<p>The ground continues to burn as a result from the Buffalo Fire in the Wildernest neighborhood near Silverthorne, Colo., Wednesday, June 13, 2018. A wildfire erupted Tuesday in an area of Colorado known for its ski resorts, forcing the evacuation of more than 1,300 homes and marking the latest in a series of blazes that have ignited in the drought-stricken U.S. West. (Photo: Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News via AP) </p>
Near Silverthorne, Colo.

The ground continues to burn as a result from the Buffalo Fire in the Wildernest neighborhood near Silverthorne, Colo., Wednesday, June 13, 2018. A wildfire erupted Tuesday in an area of Colorado known for its ski resorts, forcing the evacuation of more than 1,300 homes and marking the latest in a series of blazes that have ignited in the drought-stricken U.S. West. (Photo: Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News via AP)

<p>Smoke rises from the 416 Fire behind the U.S. Highway 550 road block at Cometti Lane on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, near Durango, Colo. (Photo: Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP) </p>
Near Durango, Colo.

Smoke rises from the 416 Fire behind the U.S. Highway 550 road block at Cometti Lane on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, near Durango, Colo. (Photo: Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP)

<p>Tree stumps and other logs are covered in flame retardant materials dropped in by aircraft at the Buffalo Fire site Wednesday, June 13, 2018 near Silverthorne, Colo. (Photo: Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News via AP) </p>
Near Silverthorne, Colo.

Tree stumps and other logs are covered in flame retardant materials dropped in by aircraft at the Buffalo Fire site Wednesday, June 13, 2018 near Silverthorne, Colo. (Photo: Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News via AP)

<p>As the sun sets, smoke rises from a 416 Fire burn area west of the Falls creek Ranch subdivision late Wednesday, June 13, 2018, near Durango, Colo. (Photo: Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP) </p>
Near Durango, Colo.

As the sun sets, smoke rises from a 416 Fire burn area west of the Falls creek Ranch subdivision late Wednesday, June 13, 2018, near Durango, Colo. (Photo: Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP)

<p>A Green River firefighter cleans up after a brush fire near Pack Creek in Moab, Utah, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. A fast-moving brush fire destroyed homes in the Utah tourist town of Moab, while several thousand people in Colorado and Wyoming fled multiple wildfires scorching the drought-stricken U.S. West on Wednesday. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred/The Deseret News via AP) </p>
Moab, Utah

A Green River firefighter cleans up after a brush fire near Pack Creek in Moab, Utah, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. A fast-moving brush fire destroyed homes in the Utah tourist town of Moab, while several thousand people in Colorado and Wyoming fled multiple wildfires scorching the drought-stricken U.S. West on Wednesday. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred/The Deseret News via AP)

<p>The remnants of a home destroyed by Tuesday’s fire are seen in Moab, Utah, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. The blaze in Moab, known for its dramatic red rocks, started in a wooded area Tuesday night and quickly spread to homes over less than a square mile, Police Chief Jim Winder said. (Photo: Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) </p>
Moab, Utah

The remnants of a home destroyed by Tuesday’s fire are seen in Moab, Utah, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. The blaze in Moab, known for its dramatic red rocks, started in a wooded area Tuesday night and quickly spread to homes over less than a square mile, Police Chief Jim Winder said. (Photo: Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

<p>Red Cross volunteer Monica Sierra hugs a friend in Moab, Utah, on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred/The Deseret News via AP) </p>
Moab, Utah

Red Cross volunteer Monica Sierra hugs a friend in Moab, Utah, on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred/The Deseret News via AP)

<p>Property destroyed by the fire in Moab, Utah, near Pack Creek, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Photo: Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) </p>
Moab, Utah

Property destroyed by the fire in Moab, Utah, near Pack Creek, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Photo: Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

<p>Firefighters from Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands work on hot spots from yesterday’s fire in Moab, Utah. Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Photo: Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) </p>
Moab, Utah

Firefighters from Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands work on hot spots from yesterday’s fire in Moab, Utah. Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Photo: Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

<p>Fire investigators walk among the property destroyed by the fire near Pack Creek, in Moab, Utah, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Photo: Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) </p>
Moab, Utah

Fire investigators walk among the property destroyed by the fire near Pack Creek, in Moab, Utah, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (Photo: Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

<p>A plane drops fire-retardant chemicals on the 416 Fire near Durango, Colo., June 9, 2018. (Photo: La Plata County/Handout via Reuters) </p>
Near Durango, Colo.

A plane drops fire-retardant chemicals on the 416 Fire near Durango, Colo., June 9, 2018. (Photo: La Plata County/Handout via Reuters)

<p>A satellite image shows the 416 Wildfire burning west of Highway 550 and northwest of Hermosa, Colo., June 10, 2018. (Photo: © 2018 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company/Handout via Reuters) </p>
Hermosa, Colo.

A satellite image shows the 416 Wildfire burning west of Highway 550 and northwest of Hermosa, Colo., June 10, 2018. (Photo: © 2018 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company/Handout via Reuters)

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