Colorado wildfire scorches woodland, at least 1,000 people evacuated

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March 19 (Reuters) - A wildfire near the University of Colorado in Boulder burned through about 62 acres (25 hectares) of woodland on Sunday, prompting authorities to urge at least 1,000 people to evacuate the drought-hit region.

The fire in Sunshine Canyon, just outside the university town, started before dawn on Sunday and is about 20 percent contained, with no injuries or damage to structures reported, said Denise White, a spokeswoman for the Boulder Emergency Operations Center.

See images of the wildfire and its effects:

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DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: Fire crews fight a wildfire from the air in Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: Fire crews work a wildfire in Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: Fire crews, from Denver, are on stand by as a wildfire burns in Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: Fire crews work a wildfire in Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: People gather to watch as fire crews work a wildfire in Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: Smoke covers Boulder as a wildfire burns Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: Fire crews work a wildfire in Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: Fire crews fight a wildfire from the air in Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: People gather to watch as fire crews work a wildfire in Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: Fire crews work a wildfire in Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: Fire crews fight a wildfire from the air in Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: People gather to watch as fire crews work a wildfire in Sunshine Canyon on March 19, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated west of Boulder due to the fire. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
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Authorities have contacted 1,000 people and told them to leave the area, she said. The number could cover individual households or multiple people in a single home.

"From what we've got right now, a lot of the fire is in open space," she said. "We do have some evacuations in place."

The fire was fanned by winds that the National Weather Service forecast could gust to 33 miles per hour (53 kph) during the afternoon, with temperatures expected to be near 80 Fahrenheit (27 Celsius).

A wide swath of northeastern Colorado is under a National Weather Service "red flag" warning for wildfires. Much of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Nebraska are in drought conditions ranging from moderate to extreme, the agency said.

Prairie fires stoked by high winds and tinder-dry vegetation raged across 1.5 million acres (600,000 hectares) of the southern Great Plains early this month, killing at least six people and prompting thousands of people to be evacuated.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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