Wind-driven wildfires destroy homes near Colorado Springs

Large plumbs of smoke from a wildfire burning in the Black Forest stretch the horizon threatening homes north east of Colorado Springs, Colorado June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Louis Batides
Large plumbs of smoke from a wildfire burning in the Black Forest stretch the horizon threatening homes north east of Colorado Springs, Colorado June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Louis Batides

Fire crews battled a wind-whipped wildfire on Wednesday that burned dozens of homes on the edge of Colorado Springs, while another blaze shut one of Colorado’s top tourist attractions and prompted the evacuation of more than 900 inmates from a prison.

The fire near Colorado Springs ignited on Tuesday and ripped through the Black Forest, 15 miles northeast of the city, said Mike Stearly, spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center.

The fast-moving blaze reached a residential neighborhood where it razed between 40 and 60 homes and an unknown number of outbuildings by late Tuesday, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said. He said the fire was estimated to cover an area of at least 8,000 acres.

Evacuation notices went out to several thousand local residents, and Army National Guard troops have been deployed to help local police agencies prevent looting in the area, Maketa said late on Tuesday.

Maketa compared the conflagration to the so-called Waldo Canyon Fire in June 2012 — the most destructive wildfire in Colorado’s history. It reduced about 350 homes to ash in the Colorado Springs area and led authorities to place more than 30,000 people in the area under mandatory evacuation orders.

In neighboring Fremont County, a 3,800-acre (1,540 hectare) wildfire broke out on Tuesday and prompted the evacuation of the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said in a statement.

The Royal Gorge span, which is billed as the world’s highest suspension bridge, stretches nearly 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River for a quarter-mile and is one of Colorado’s most visible tourist destinations. The bridge itself is not threatened by the flames.

The fire started on the south side of the river and later jumped to the north bank, fire managers said. They added that the river is closed to rafting and nearby residents are under mandatory evacuation orders.

The blaze also prompted the evacuation of 905 prisoners overnight from the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in Canon City to other prisons as a precautionary measure, said state corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan.

She said the fire had not reached the prison, which houses many inmates with mental health and medical needs including wheelchairs.

Investigators are seeking the cause of both fires.

In northern Colorado, a lightning-sparked wildfire that erupted on Monday in Rocky Mountain National Park has burned about 400 acres and is spreading. No structures are immediately threatened by that blaze.

The National Weather Service said single-digit humidity values and temperatures in the upper 90s Fahrenheit (upper 30s Celsius), combined with wind gusts in excess of 40 miles an hour have created “very high to extreme fire danger” in Colorado for most of the week.

In Northern California, a wildfire claimed the life of a 28-year-old U.S. Forest Service smokejumper, officials said on Tuesday. Smokejumpers are firefighters who parachute into remote areas to attack forest fires.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…