(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) — Rows of homes have been wiped out by the Waldo Canyon fire that continues to blanket the mountain town of Colorado Springs with thick smoke, officials said today.
“We now know hundreds of homes have been destroyed,” Mayor Steve Bach said today. “We are working through the process, which is very painstaking, of assessing every address to make sure that we have absolutely accurate information on each address.”
More than 1,000 firefighters are now battling the blaze, which has reportedly burned 18,500 acres. It remains at 5 percent contained, but fire officials said they expected that to increase today.
“Today is the first day in five or so days that we haven’t had a red flag warning,” U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Jerri Marr told ABC News affiliate 7 News in Denver.
More than half of the U.S. fleet of C-130s has also dumped retardant on the area.
Although there were no reports of injuries or deaths, 40 people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Colorado Springs doctors said the air quality was at least 10 times worse than normal.
On Wednesday, severe heat and strong winds had firefighters bracing for worsening fire conditions, but today Incident Commander Rich Harvey said that his team had been able to control the “majority” of the fire despite the weather. More than 32,000 residents have been evacuated from the fast moving blaze that started Saturday. Many had just minutes to grab what they could and get out.
The FBI says it is investigating whether the wildfires in Colorado Springs resulted from criminal activity.
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