At least four major wildfires fueled by hot, gusty weather burned
along the front of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado on Tuesday,
destroying a handful of large houses and chasing people from hundreds of
Thick smoke plumes visible for miles billowed from fires near
Colorado Springs, in southern Colorado, and in Rocky Mountain National
Park to the north.
A wildfire in a heavily wooded residential area northeast of Colorado
Springs led to the mandatory evacuations of more than 1,000 homes,
including some worth more than $1 million, El Paso County Sheriff Terry
Video from a helicopter showed several large homes engulfed in
flames. About eight homes had burned, Maketa said, but he had no exact
number because the fire was moving so quickly across the parched forest.
"Right now the firefighters are more focused on fighting fires,
drawing lines. And law enforcement, to be very honest, is scrambling to
get people out of there as well as do searches," Maketa said. He said
firefighters have shifted from evacuation mode to search-and-rescue
Military officials said a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the
Colorado Army National Guard and three helicopters from Fort Carson were
helping firefighters. Another National Guard helicopter was on standby
for search and rescue.
The area is not far from last summer's devastating Waldo Canyon Fire that destroyed 346 homes and killed two.
"It's very, very reminiscent of what we experienced in Waldo Canyon," Maketa said.
All of the fires were moving quickly, driven by record temperatures
and strong winds. The conditions were making it difficult to build
containment lines around the fire, and sparks jumped across them.
"Weather is not working with us right now, but our guys are giving it a heck of a shot," Maketa said.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in any of the fires.
In southern Colorado, the Bureau of Land Management said three
structures have been lost in a fire on about 6 square miles near the
Royal Gorge Bridge. Authorities evacuated Royal Gorge Bridge & Park.
A third wildfire in southern Colorado erupted Tuesday in rural
Huerfano County. The Klikus Fire had burned an estimated 45 to 50 acres
west of La Veta, prompting evacuation orders for about 200 residences.
The causes of those fires weren't immediately confirmed.
A fourth wildfire sparked by lightning Monday in Rocky Mountain
National Park quickly grew to an estimated 300 to 400 acres Tuesday. No
structures were threatened.
In the Colorado Springs area, George Gonzales, 74, and his wife were
spending the night in their motorhome in the parking lot of a Red Cross
shelter set up for evacuees from the Black Forest Fire. He said the two
had been eating lunch in town when his daughter got an alert on her
phone about the fire and called them.
An officer let them go back home to retrieve their dogs, their
motorhome and truck, and his heart medicine, George Gonzales said.
"Sure, we're worried, but we're hoping for the best," he said.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/06/12/colorado-wildfire-burns-through-homes-and-structures/#ixzz2W09sUEVf