The 29-square-mile Waldo Canyon Fire northwest of Colorado Springs is the most destructive fire in state history. So far, it’s killed two people, displaced more than 30,000 people, destroyed 346 homes and cost about $8.8 million since it began on June 23.
As of mid-day Thursday the blaze was only 10 per cent contained and more than $3 million had been spent on the blaze.
Today flames near Colorado’s second largest city are 70 per cent contained, but fully contained within the city. About 2,100 people are still evacuated, including those who lost homes.
Conditions are still too dicey in Waldo Canyon to allow authorities to begin figuring out what sparked the blaze, but officials expect it to be fully contained by July 16. (The Denver Post has a real-time fire map.)
The community 60 miles north of Denver affected by the High Park Fire, which is 100 per cent contained after burning nearly 88,000 acres, is now relying almost entirely on Colorado River water as water managers wait for damage assessments from recent fires.
The 136-square-mile fire killed one woman and ripped through 257 homes, but conditions have allowed for 1,900 people to return to their homes (if they’re there).
Firefighting efforts were hampered on Sunday when a C-130 from the Air National Guard crashed while fighting a 6.5-square-mile blaze in the Black Hills of South Dakota, killing four crew members and seriously injuring the remaining two.
Seven C-130s were put on an indefinite “operational hold” during one of the busiest and most destructive wildfire seasons ever as investigators looked into the crash.
Photo: Flickr/The National Guard
Meanwhile other wildfires are still raging in other states in the West.
A 72-square-mile wildfire in central Utah has already destroyed at least 56 structures and continues to burn with just 15 per cent containment. Authorities fully expect the damage estimate to rise as they continue their assessment.
Two new wildfires broke out on National Forest lands – one caused by target shooting – and evacuations were ordered in southern Utah as the 500-acre Shingle fire threatened about 100 cabins.
In Montana the 290-square mile Ash Creek fire triggered evacuations when it jumped a state highway early Monday. Fire crews in southeastern Montana dug containment lines around two wildfires that have burned 200-square miles and dozens of home while hundreds of residents were turned away by authorities when asked to be let back in to check their properties and assess the damage.
Three large forest fires in Wyoming continued to spread over the weekend as crews faced erratic winds and explosive fuel conditions. A wildfire in the Bridger-Teton National Forest of western Wyoming grew to nearly 36 square miles, officials said.
This infrared image from DigitalGlobe shows a view of the Waldo Canyon Fire in which the bright red areas display healthy vegetation and the rest is charred landscape.
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