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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)

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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