UPDATE: Thousands Evacuate as Colorado’s Waldo Canyon Wildfire Doubles in Size
Those wildfires in Colorado don’t show much sign of abating. In fact, more than 32,000 residents in or near Colorado Springs, the state’s second-largest city, were ordered to evacuate after the Waldo Canyon Fire doubled in size Tuesday night.
After flying over the area, Gov. John Hickenlooper said, “It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine… It’s almost surreal.”
The heat and flames are so bad that authorities aren’t even sure yet how many homes have been destroyed, and fleeing residents and police officers directing traffic covered their faces with T-shirts and bandanas to breathe through the smoke.
“This is a firestorm of epic proportions,” said Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard Brown.
Firefighters have worked for days in record-setting temperatures to fight the blazes fueled by a prolonged drought that also left much of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana under red flag — or “extreme fire danger” — warnings.
Thunderstorms are expected near the fires on Wednesday afternoon, but they could bring with them unpredictable winds that would make firefighters’ jobs even more difficult.