The Washington Times - June 27, 2012, 03:51PM

President Obama called Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, as well as Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, Wednesday afternoon to get an update on the devastating wildfires that are raging in the region, forcing frantic evacuation orders for more than 32,000 residents, including the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Mr. Obama expressed his concern about the extent of the damage and told Mr. Hickenlooper and Mr. Bach that he plans to travel to the area Friday to survey the area and personally thank first responders, according to a White House readout of the phone call.

“The president reiterated his administration’s focus, through the U.S. Forest Service, as well as the Department of Interior and FEMA, on continuing to bring all resources to bear to assist local responders in Colorado and a number of Western States currently being impacted by fires,” the White House said in the readout.

Seventeen air tankers have cycled in and out of firefighting action over the past 48 hours across the West, the White House said. More than 8,400 personnel, 578 fire engines and 79 helicopters are operating on wildfires around the U.S., with more than half of active federal wildfire-fighting resources currently deployed in Colorado.

During the phone call, Mr. Obama asked the governor and the mayor to identify any additional resources that could be provided and said his thoughts and prayers are with all of the responders and families impacted by these and other fires burning across the western United States.