COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Making steady progress Saturday against the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, crews kept a wary eye on weather that was getting warmer and drier as National guard troops were deployed to help local police get things back to normal.
“The weather is making progress in a bad direction. Hotter, drier, with a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Winds will shift from one direction to another,” said IncidentCommander Rich Harvey.
The 26-square-mile Waldo Canyon fire was 30 percent contained. It was one of many burning across the West, including eight in Utah and a fast-growing blaze in Montana that forced residents in several small communities to leave.
More than 1,200 personnel and six helicopters were fighting the Waldo Canyon fire, and authorities said they were confident they’d built good fire lines in many areas to stop flames from spreading.
“Today is going to be our test day,” said Jerri Marr, supervisor of the Pike and San Isabella national forests. “Today we’re going to see how all the things that we’ve done hold.”
Two bodies were found in the ruins of one house, one of almost 350 destroyed in this city 60 miles south of Denver. The victims’ names haven’t been released. Police say fewer than 10 people may be unaccounted for.
“There are another couple of people we still have some pretty serious concerns about,” Police Chief Pete Carey said.
More than 150 National Guard soldiers and airmen helped Colorado Springs police staff roadblocks and patrol streets. Carey said Saturday the presence of military personnel will allow his department to resume normal police work in the rest of the city.
About 10,000 people remain evacuated, down from more than 30,000 at the fire’s peak.
The mood was light as evacuees filtered back into an unscathed neighborhood of winding streets and split-level homes within an easy walk of the burned area.
“I’m just wanting to kiss the house, dance with the neighbors”, Allen said.
Their house didn’t smell of smoke. Their electricity was out for two or three days but the popsicles in their freezer didn’t melt, she said.
Around the corner, retiree Nina Apsey wandered in search of eight small, solar-powered lights that somebody had taken from her yard during the evacuation.
“I’m assuming it was vandalism,” she said.View Entire Story
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