The 12-day-old conflagration, dubbed the 416 Fire, was by far the largest and most threatening of at least a half-dozen blazes raging across Colorado as the 2018 summer wildfire season heated up across the Western United States.
"Under current conditions, one abandoned campfire or spark could cause a catastrophic wildfire, and we are not willing to take that chance with the natural and cultural resources under our protection and care, or with human life and property", said Richard Bustamante, the national forest's fire staff officer, CNN reported.
Multiple wildfires are already burning in the area, including the 23,000-acre 416 Fire near Durango, Colorado, and the 41,000-acre Buzzard Fire in west-central New Mexico.
The San Juan National Forest closed indefinitely on Tuesday for the first time since it became a national forest more than 100 years ago.
The fires began June 1 in the San Juan National Forest and have continued to grow amid dry and hot weather.
Anyone caught violating the order could be found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor and face a fine of $5,000 for individuals or $10,000 for organizations, and/or imprisonment. Officials said the fire was burning in heavy fuels.
According to its website, the San Juan National Forest, which is in the southwestern corner of Colorado, covers 1.8 million acres of land.
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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said the rapid response from emergency crews has helped prevent a repeat of devastating wildfires in 2012 and 2013.
A fast-moving brush fire destroyed eight homes in the southern Utah tourist town of Moab. "Our state agencies are here to support you".
The Cibola National Forest announcement won't affect Albuquerque Open Space trails until those trails cross into the National Forest, said Philip Clelland, a spokesman for Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department.
"As soon as they raise the level (to extreme), then we'll go ahead and implement closures", Clelland said. The Ute Fire has burned 36,740 acres.
The site said containment was not expected before the end of the month.
The state's largest fire forced the evacuation of more than 1,300 homes Tuesday after spreading dangerously close to the resort town of Silverthorne and two densely populated housing developments, just 60 miles west of Denver.
Similarly, the spokesperson speculated that perhaps some insulation blew off a home and burned in the sun. Officials say the ban was planned ahead of the unforeseen fire.