The destruction from fires burning across Colorado is increasing every day. New fires continue to pop up and more Colorado residents are forced to evacuate their homes and belongings. The level of devastation is beyond imagination. The lack of moisture and high winds has made the situation even worse. Colorado has experienced record high temperatures and conditions are extremely dry. The dry conditions are compounded with forests filled with dead trees from pine beetles. These conditions are ideal for fires to rage out of control and catastrophic for people that get in the way.
The Waldo Canyon Fire kicked into full gear near Colorado Springs Tuesday. This fire has been upgraded to a Category 1 fire. This fire has been upgraded to a Type 1 fire. This means a specialty team that specializes in coordinating multiple agencies for complex fires has taken over command of the fire. The team took over Monday. No injuries have been reported at this time.
This fire forced over 32,000 evacuations. These evacuations cover the area near the Garden of the Gods West of Colorado springs, including the Mountain Shadows suburb as well as the Kissing Camels area and it also covers portions of the Air Force Academy. The Mountain Shadows suburb has over 1700 homes that house 4000 residents. "This is a firestorm of epic proportions," according to Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard during a briefing. "We had active fire throughout the night," said Lt. Jeff Kramer during an interview with 7NEWS on Wednesday morning. At least ten homes have been completely destroyed from the fire, but no report has been released at this time. 15,000 acres have burned according to preliminary reports and the fire is 5% contained.
Governor Hickenlooper flew in to the fire area Tuesday evening to show residents support and offer words of encouragement. "We just flew over the fires, and we could see the path that they came down out of the hills. It was like looking at a military invasion. All the bright spots- as you got closer you saw they were people's homes. They weren't trees on fire, they were people's homes, burned to the ground, block after block," Hickenlooper said during a briefing.
The High Park Fire has reached 87,000 acres. This fire is located near Fort Collins. Fire officials say they have made a lot of progress and the fire is now 65% contained. Progress over the past few days has slowed the growth of the fire.
A total of 8 fires are burning across Colorado. Record high temperatures compounded with high winds have escalated the risks for even more fires during this overwhelming fire season. Communities are also concerned about financial losses from tourism during this time of crisis. Many businesses experience the majority of their revenue generating operations during the summer months.