9:38am

Wed June 27, 2012
Widlfires

Evacuees Pushed By Growing Waldo Canyon Fire

The massive 15,324 acre Waldo Canyon Fire has raced into Colorado Springs' suburbia, destroying scores of homes and sending 32,000 residents fleeing the flames.

Major evacuations of the NW neighborhoods of Colorado Springs began yesterday afternoon. As thousands fled the fire in panic, Interstate 25 was turned into an evacuation route, and parts of the United State Air Force Academy were evacuated.

Red flag conditions are forecast for the area, strong winds, low humidity and a chance for more thunderstorms with lightning and little rain; the Waldo Canyon fire currently at 5% containment, could continue to grow.

That growth could be aided by the fact that the Waldo Canyon fire is burning in tinder dry pines and brush. The blaze changed directions yesterday as shifting winds gusting to 65 miles per hour pushing the fire into a heavily populated area.

Fire trucks rushed to protect the hundreds of homes in the burn zone, and Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Brown called the event “epic”, saying firefighters are working to save as many of them as possible.

“We’re making stands, we’re saving many, many homes. As I’m listening to it, you need to know that our people are doing everything they can to make this thing come to a conclusion.”

Governor John Hickenlooper flew from Denver via helicopter last night and landed at the Incident Command Center to brief reporters and citizens. He said the state is in the worst fire season in Colorado’s history.

Shortly after the press briefing, the Incident Command center was forced to evacuate as concern grew that it too was in the path of the wildfire.

As the Waldo Canyon Fire grows, it has the potential to move outside of El Paso County. As a precaution, Douglas Country Officials are sending pre-evacuation notices to persons living in the southwest area of the county.

Incident Command says no injuries have been reported in the fire, and 1,000 firefighters will be battling the blaze today. They will focus on building stronger containment lines.

This video, posted to YouTube by user perpixelgraphics, shows a time lapse of the fire last night and smoke and light it generated.