President Obama Visits Fire-Ravaged Colorado

Posted June 29th, 2012 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama has surveyed the devastation caused by a massive wildfire in Colorado, calling the damage “enormous.”

The president Friday saw charred homes and cars melted by fire in Colorado Springs, the state's second largest city. The Waldo Canyon fire has killed at least one person, destroyed 346 homes and forced the evacuation of about 36,000 people in Colorado Springs.

Ahead of the visit, Mr. Obama issued a disaster declaration for Colorado. The declaration makes federal disaster funds available to to assist people affected by the Waldo Canyon fire and another massive wildfire in northern Colorado that destroyed 257 homes and killed one woman earlier this month.

The Waldo Canyon fire started last Saturday in Pike National Forest, and has consumed over 6,000 hectares of land, at one point threatening the U.S. Air Force Academy. It began raging out of control on Tuesday, fueled by high winds and temperatures soaring above 37 degrees Celsius.

Officials say the blaze is now 15 percent contained, thanks to cooler temperatures and calmer winds that helped the firefighting efforts.

The cause of the fire has not been determined. The FBI is investigating to determine if any criminal activity was involved.

The Colorado fires are among several that have raged across much of the western United States in recent weeks, including one in the nearby state of Utah that claimed the life of one person.