Thousands displaced by Colorado wildfire
At least two people dead and about 10,000 still displaced as scores of wildfires continue to rage across western US.
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2012 20:00

Two people have been found dead and nearly 350 homes have been destroyed by a raging US wildfire that has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes this week.

About 10,000 people have remained displaced by the largest wildfire in the US state of Colorado history on Saturday, a day after Barack Obama, the US president, visited the scene and called it a "major disaster".

Police say fewer than 10 people may be unaccounted for. 

Two burned bodies were found in the ruins of one house, according to authorities. The victims' names haven't been released.

Meanwhile, lighter winds have helped firefighters gain new ground against the Waldo Canyon inferno. About 30 per cent of the fire has been contained so far.

"We had a pretty good day on the line today," said Rich Harvey, the state official in charge of managing the fire, according to the Reuters news agency. "There was minimal fire growth."

But the damage is already extensive: Aerial photos showed large swaths of neighbourhoods reduced to ash in Colorado Springs and surrounding areas. The city is home to the US Olympic Training Centre and the Air Force Space Command, which operates military satellites.

Little is known about the identity of the victim, the fifth person killed this year by wildfires in Colorado. Police officials also said that at least one person is missing.

The tally of homes destroyed by the fire ranks as the most on record, surpassing the 257 homes burned in a much larger fire north of Denver earlier this year.

More than 30,000 people have fled their homes, though a limited number of evacuees were allowed to return on Thursday night. The cost of fighting the fire has already surpassed $3m.

Searing temperatures and strong, erratic winds earlier this week stoked the blaze, which has swallowed more than 18,500 acres of timber and brush, much of it in the Pike National Forecast.

The Colorado fire is one of more than 40 large wildfires burning across the western United States.


Al Jazeera
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