Raging Wildfires Spread in Colorado

Posted June 27th, 2012 at 1:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Flames are spreading quickly across Colorado where firefighters are locked in a desperate battle to save homes and lives.

Officials said Wednesday the Waldo Canyon Fire had doubled in size to more than 6,200 hectares and that the flames were so intense that it was difficult to assess the damage.

Already, the fire has forced the evacuation of 32,000 people from their homes in the state's second largest city, Colorado Springs, including hundreds of residents living on the grounds of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Colorado Springs Fire Chief Rich Brown said the fire had reached “epic proportions.”

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper surveyed the fire from the air Tuesday night, flying over in a helicopter. He said this is now the worst fire season in the state's history.

Authorities say the fire has consumed numerous homes, including a historic ranch that attracts hundreds of tourists each year. Highways and major roads were choked with residents fleeing the evacuated areas, as huge plumes of smoke from the fire filled the skies above.

The Waldo Canyon Fire started last Saturday in Pike National Forest. The blaze has been fueled by several days of hot weather, with record-setting temperatures soaring above 37 degrees Celsius.

Authorities say it is only five percent contained

The Waldo Canyon Fire is one of several massive wildfires that have raged across much of the western United States in recent weeks, including one in northern Colorado. One person has been confirmed dead in a wildfire in the nearby state of Utah that forced authorities to shut down a major roadway.