Sunday, July 1, 2012

Firefighters make gains in Colorado, evacuees return home

Keith Coffman in Reuters: Crews battling a deadly Colorado wildfire ranked the most destructive in state history have made enough headway to allow most evacuees home, but concerns remain about rogue bears and burglaries in vacant houses, officials said on Saturday.

The so-called Waldo Canyon Fire, stoked earlier this week by strong, erratic winds, is now 45 percent contained, although the damage wrought by the blaze has devastated the communities around Colorado Springs, the state's second-largest city.

The wildfire has been blamed for two deaths and the destruction of 346 homes, while 35,000 residents were forced to evacuate to escape the threat of flames and heavy smoke.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey said all the people unaccounted for in the fire zones have now been located.

The fire has scorched nearly 17,000 acres of timber and brush, much of it in the Pike National Forest west of Colorado Springs, a city of more than 400,000 about 50 miles south of Denver. The cost of battling the blaze stands at $8.8 million, officials said....

The Waldo Canyon Fire on June 26, 2012, shot by U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr

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