News

Wildfires Expand Overnight

Wildfires in the Western United States just won’t quit, forcing more people to evacuate their homes.

June 27, 2012
GAYLON WAMPLER—AP

Wildfires continue to burn in Waldo Canyon in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Firefighters continue to battle raging wildfires across the West. Thousands of people are being forced to evacuate, or leave, their homes before their property goes up in flames. In Waldo Canyon, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, a stubborn wildfire doubled in size overnight. “It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine," Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper told AP, after flying over the area late Tuesday. "You look at that, and it's like nothing I've seen before." The Waldo Canyon fire is now the number one priority for firefighters.

People drive through smoke as they evacuate their homes because of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire.
RICK WILKING—REUTERS
People drive through smoke as they evacuate their homes because of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire.

No one knows the exact cause of the Waldo Canyon wildfire, but firefighters are prepared for the blaze to expand its reach. “If I gave acreage right now, it would be wrong in five minutes,” incident commander Rich Harvey told Reuters on Wednesday. “It’s growing.”  The Waldo Canyon fire started on Saturday. It was only 5% contained before brisk winds sent the flames moving swiftly toward Colorado Springs. On Tuesday, 32,000 people were made to evacuate their homes for safety.

More Blazes Burning

Waldo Canyon isn’t the only place being hit hard by wildfire. Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming have all been placed in the red flag zone. This means that because of their hot, dry climate, these states face extreme fire danger. In northern Colorado, the High Park Fire has already destroyed 257 homes as of Tuesday. Lightning started the blaze on June 9. In western Wyoming, the first major wildfire of the season broke out in Bridger-Teton National Forest. On Tuesday, it spread from 300 to 2,000 acres. In New Mexico, west of the town of Ruidoso, firefighters’ hard work is paying off. A wildfire there is 90% contained and people are being allowed to return to their homes.

Firefighters have their work cut out for them in the upcoming weeks. Across the United States, there are now 29 active wildfires. Yesterday, Colorado’s Governor Hickenlooper hoped to reassure residents. "We have all the support of the U.S. government,” he said. “We have all the support of the State of Colorado. And we want everybody here to know that."


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