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Hundreds of homes destroyed in Colorado fire
Question of the Day
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Colorado Springs officials said Thursday that hundreds of homes have been destroyed by a raging wildfire that has encroached on the state’s second-largest city and threatened the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Mayor Steve Bach said a more accurate account will be available later in the day of the damage from a blaze that has burned out of control for much of the week and forced more than 30,000 evacuees to frantically pack up belongings and flee.
The wildfire was one of many burning across the parched West, blazes that have destroyed structures and prompted evacuations in Montana and Utah and forced the closure of a portion of Zion National Park.
Colorado’s Thursday weather forecast offered some hope for firefighters to make progress, with the temperature expected to reach into the mid-80s — about 5 degrees cooler than Wednesday — and humidity 15 percent to 20 percent, about 5 percentage points higher.
Winds were forecast to be 10 to 15 mph out of the west.
“It’s not windy yet this morning. That’s always a good sign,” fire information officer Rob Dyerberg said Thursday.
Neighborhoods where explosions of bright orange flame Tuesday signaled yet another house had been claimed were still dangerous, keeping authorities away from being able to assess the damage.
An AP aerial photo taken Wednesday of one neighborhood showed hundreds of heavily damaged or destroyed homes.
Ed and Florine Gigandet took refuge in a hotel in Manitou Springs, which days earlier had been evacuated when the same fire passed through. They fled their home as ash fell on their driveway from ominous orange smoke overhead.
Trying to learn about damage, the Gigandets drove to near their west Colorado Springs neighborhood to talk to police officers and see the area. They scoured media photos and spent hours on the phone with friends for any scrap of information. Authorities told the Gigandets it could be at least week before they’re allowed home.
“We only packed clothes for four days,” Florine Gigandet, 83, a retired photo printer, said. “I really thought that we’d be gone for only a day.”
The displaced residents took stock of what they left behind. Some sat in coffee shops, others stood on bluffs to keep an eye on their neighborhoods, and others met with insurance company representatives.
The fire moved so fast that Laura Oldland grabbed damp laundry out of her drier and threw it into a suitcase, but she forgot her grandmother’s dishes.
The Gigandets, who are avid golfers, left their clubs behind.
“We should be out golfing,” said Ed Gigandet, 81, a retired mining machinery sales analyst.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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