Colorado Wildfires Burn Hundreds of Homes, Displace Thousands
A wildfire raging in northern Colorado for two weeks with hot, dry and windy conditions burned dozens of more homes on Sunday, raising the toll to 248, while new fires displaced over 11,000 residents and numerous tourists in the state.
The toll from the so-called High Park Fire was raised as residents of a subdivision near Fort Collins learned on Sunday that 57 more homes in their neighborhood had been lost, The Associated Press reported.
The High Park Fire, which began June 9, has scorched more than 130 square miles and was just 45 percent contained on Sunday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Situated several miles west of Colorado Springs, the Waldo Canyon fire displaced about 11,000 people from their homes Sunday, The Denver Post reported. Officials described the fire, which spread in three directions, as "very aggressive."
About 5,000 of those who had to evacuate were allowed to return to their homes in Manitou Springs beginning Sunday morning. However, mandatory evacuations remained in place for Cascade, Green Mountain Falls and Chipita Park.
It charred at least 2,500 acres and forced evacuations of about 4,000 homes in El Paso County.
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Also, a brushfire that began Sunday near Elbert, about 50 miles southwest of Denver, spread fast to about 60 acres, forcing about 100 residents to evacuate, AP reported.
Another fire destroyed structures near the mountain community of Estes Park, where many tourists stay while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, on Saturday. According to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, 22 homes and two outbuildings had been burned.
While the High Park Fire is the second-largest wildfire and among the most expensive in the history of Colorado, the state is having its worst wildfire season in a decade with a total of eight fires burning.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said half the nation's firefighting fleet was battling fires in the state, and added that C-130 military transport planes from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs would begin assisting on Monday. "People recognize this is going to take a big push," he was quoted as saying.