Colorado Wildfire of ‘Epic Proportions’

Colorado - Predicted thunderstorms could complicate efforts Wednesday to tame an explosive wildfire that has already chased some 32,000 residents from their homes near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The fire doubled in size overnight and by Wednesday morning, 15,324 acres were burning with only 5% contained, said Rich Harvey, incident commander of the Waldo Canyon Fire.
"You saw yesterday as bad a fire behavior as you are going to see anywhere, anytime," he said, referring to extremely dry, hot and windy conditions. "We expect further trouble from the weather today."
Thunderstorms seem like a good thing in the midst of hot, arid conditions, but they bring with them strong winds that can gust in any direction. "That will make work for firefighters more difficult," Harvey said.
Winds gusting to 65 mph through mountain canyons blew the wildfire through containment lines into northwest Colorado Springs on Tuesday afternoon.
Richard Brown, the Colorado Springs Fire chief, described it as a "firestorm of epic proportions."
Gov. John Hickenlooper surveyed the Waldo Canyon Fire, telling reporters it was a difficult sight to see.
"There were people's homes burned to the ground. It was surreal," he said late Tuesday night. "There's no question, it's serious. It's as serious as it gets."
The flames from the same wildfire also are dangerously close to the U.S. Air Force Academy campus. An evacuation order has been issued for about 700 residents in its Pine Valley Housing and 1,400 in Douglass Valley Housing, said public affairs officer John Van Winkle.
The academy's powered flight, glider and parachuting operations have been called off since Saturday so that the U.S. Forest Service could use runways for helicopters used to fight fires along Colorado's Front Range, Van Winkle said.

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