NATION

Waldo Canyon Fire pushes thousands to evacuate

Flames from the Waldo Canyon Fire cause the western side of Colorado Springs, Colo. to glow as  several structures and home burn on Tuesday. The fire made a massive run late in the day leaving a trail of destruction, and burning homes and buildings in it's path.10 Photos
(Photo: Bryan Oller/Associated Press)
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Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard Brown echoed her sentiment, saying, "This is a firestorm of epic proportions."

Thunderstorms are expected near the blaze in the afternoon, but incident commander Rich Harvey says they could bring unpredictable winds that would hinder firefighters' efforts near the city of 419,000 people.

The fire is about 5 percent contained, Harvey said.

Throughout the interior 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.

In central Utah, authorities found one woman dead Tuesday when they returned to an evacuated area. It marked the first casualty in the blaze that authorities said Wednesday burned down 56 structures, the majority of which are homes.

Sanpete County sheriff's officials said they hadn't identified the victim, whose remains were found during a damage assessment of the 60-square-mile Wood Hollow Fire near Indianola.

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 Asheville, N.C.

Elsewhere in Colorado, the 136-square-mile High Park Fire has destroyed 257 homes, authorities said. That fire was triggered by lightning June 9.

And elsewhere in the West:

- A fire that charred nearly 70 square miles west of Ruidoso, N.M., was 90 percent contained, with many residents allowed to return home.

- A wildfire north of Helena, Mont., destroyed four homes and forced additional evacuations. Gov. Brian Schweitzer issued a state of emergency for four counties.

- A wildfire in the Bridger-Teton National Forest grew from about 300 acres to 2,000 acres Tuesday, marking the first major wildfire of the season in western Wyoming.

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