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
Local

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Brooklyn packed for annual West Indian Day Parade

Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway was packed Monday with an estimated one million people showing up to celebrate West Indian culture on Labor Day. Parade-goers waved flags…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

Gossip

Chef Todd English arrested for DWI in the…

Celebrity chef Todd English is facing DWI charges after a traffic stop on Sunday.

Movies

Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.

Gossip

Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?

Gossip

Brad and Angelina honeymoon in Gozo

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have taken their brood to Gozo for a working honeymoon.

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

MLB

Cole Hamels, three other Phillies throw no-hitter

Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon combined for the first ever Phillies team no-hitterr in a 7-0 win over the Braves Monday afternoon.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…

Career

The number of telecommuters is expected to nearly…

Until a few years ago, telecommuting was not considered a realistic option at most companies. But with technological advances like high-speed Internet and smartphones, more…

Wellbeing

Your new food ally to ward off type…

For people who may be headed for type 2 diabetes, regularly eating pistachios might help turn the tide, according to a small nutrition trial from…