Sunday 25 February 2018

30,000 flee from 'out of control' Colorado wildfire

Jennifer Oldham in Colorado

A WILDFIRE in the mountainous suburbs of Colorado Springs is burning out of control, forcing the evacuation of 32,500 residents and destroying homes.

Hot, dry conditions and 104 kmh winds pushed the 6,200-acre Waldo Canyon fire over containment lines last night and into the state's second-largest city, closing the US Air Force Academy and tourist sites.

"It was looking like the worst movie set you could imagine," Governor John Hickenlooper told reporters after flying over the fire last night. "It's like nothing I've seen before."

Record heat and drought are fostering wildfires across the American west, including in Idaho, Montana and New Mexico. Wildfires are burning across about 140,000 acres (566 sq km) of Colorado.

The four-day-old Colorado Springs wildfire, the cause of which is under investigation, is one of eight burning in the state. Plumes of white-orange smoke could be seen from Interstate 25, the main north-south highway, which was closed temporarily last night, as the fire blazed within miles of the city centre.

The city of 416,000 is under a blanket of smoke that blocks the sun, gives the sky an eerie glow and makes breathing difficult. Officials are warning residents to stay indoors and to evacuate immediately if they are notified.

Up to 200 federal firefighters from outside the state have helped the 1,000 already battling the blaze, which is 5pc contained, officials said.

Irish Independent

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