Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Thousands flee Colorado wildfire

A towering wildfire jumped firefighters’ perimeter lines and moved into the city of Colorado Springs, forcing frantic evacuation orders for more than 32,000 residents, including the U.S. Air Force Academy, and destroying dozens of homes.

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. — A towering wildfire jumped firefighters’ perimeter lines and moved into the city of Colorado Springs, forcing frantic evacuation orders for more than 32,000 residents, including the U.S. Air Force Academy, and destroying dozens of homes.

The fire doubled in size overnight to more than 24 square miles (62 square kilometres), fire information officer Rob Dyerberg said Wednesday. Authorities said it was too dangerous to fully assess its damage, and it was nowhere near contained.

“It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said after flying over the fire late Tuesday. “It’s almost surreal.”

Heavy smoke and ash billowed from the foothills west of the city of 419,000 people as the Waldo Canyon Fire has become the top challenge for the nation’s firefighters.

Steve Cox, an aide to Mayor Steve Bach, said dozens of homes had been burned. Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard Brown called the blaze “a firestorm of epic proportions.”

With flames cresting a ridge high above its campus, the Air Force Academy told more than 2,100 residents to evacuate. Elsewhere, fleeing residents covered their faces with T-shirts and bandanas to breathe through the smoke.

“People are freaking out,” Kathleen Tillman told The Denver Post. “You are driving through smoke. It is completely pitch black, and there is tons of ash dropping on the road.”

The fire is about 5 per cent contained, incident commander Rich Harvey said.

Christine Williams and her daughter Serina saw flames consuming grass just 30 yards (meters) from their apartment complex when they fled.

“It was pretty close,” Serina Williams said. “It was too close for comfort, that’s for sure. It’s like we’ve had our life swiped out from underneath us.”

Throughout the West, firefighters have toiled for days in searing, record-setting heat against fires fueled by prolonged drought. Most, if not all, of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana were under red flag warnings, meaning extreme fire danger.

The nation is experiencing “a super-heated spike on top of a decades-long warming trend,” said Derek Arndt, head of climate monitoring at the National Climatic Data Center.

In central Utah, authorities found one woman dead Tuesday when they returned to an evacuated area, marking the first casualty in a blaze that consumed at least two dozen homes. Sanpete County sheriff’s officials said they hadn’t identified the victim.

The cause of the Waldo Canyon fire remained under investigation.

In northern Colorado, another fire has destroyed 257 homes, authorities said. That fire was triggered by lightning June 9.

Just Posted

The Latest: UK leader congratulates royals on birth of son

LONDON — The Latest on the royal baby birth: 1:50 p.m. British… Continue reading

Broncos families surprised obituaries are on website selling services

Some families of Humboldt Broncos bus crash victims are surprised to learn… Continue reading

‘It’s limitless:’ Paralyzed toddler moves from homemade wheelchair to treadmill

EDMONTON — Evelyn Moore sings the alphabet song as her tiny running… Continue reading

WATCH: Central Albertans learn about pollination and vermicomposting on Earth Day

Central Albertans learned about vermicomposting, ticks, and honey bees on Earth Day.… Continue reading

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

Facebook’s privacy changes look different for Europeans and Americans

All 2.2 billion people who use Facebook will soon see changes to… Continue reading

Vermont wants to turn tourists into workers

Vermont has forest trails, yoga retreats, breweries galore – and a labor… Continue reading

Trump leading on North Korea, says envoy to Canada as G7 ministers meet

TORONTO — Donald Trump’s envoy to Canada says her president is leading… Continue reading

Wizards come alive in Game 3 victory over Raptors

WASHINGTON - The old Washington Wizards showed up Friday night - the… Continue reading

‘Scandal’ is over, but here are 10 things we’ll remember from this crazy show

No matter how long you kept up with “Scandal” – the first… Continue reading

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month