A wildfire northeast of Colorado Springs, Colorado has become the state’s most destructive wildfire in history. The Black Forest Fire has destroyed 360 homes, surpassing the 347 homes destroyed in the Waldo Canyon Fire last year. At least 14 homes have been partially damaged and 79 homes could not be verified. The blaze covers about 15,000 acres of land and has no solid containment lines. The fire has forced the evacuation of more than 38,000 people in areas nearby, including parts of Colorado Springs. No deaths or injuries have been reported.
In addition to the Black Forest Fire, two other large fires are burning in the state. The Royal Gorge Fire, about 60 miles southwest of the Black Forest Fire, has burned 3,100 acres, causing an evacuation of the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Around 20 structures have been destroyed, and the fire is reportedly 20 percent contained. The Big Meadows Fire, north of Denver in Rocky Mountain National Park, has burned 600 acres of land.
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The Black Forest Fire is about 10 miles east of the Waldo Canyon Fire that destroyed 347 homes and killed two people last year. The blaze was first reported Tuesday afternoon, and the cause remains unknown. On Wednesday, Denver International Airport temporarily closed two runways due to a lack of visibility from the smoke. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has declared disaster emergencies for the Black Forest and the Royal Gorge fires. National Guard members and additional military support have been deployed to the areas to aid civilian agencies in fighting the fires.
Hot temperatures, gusty winds, and extremely dry forest conditions are fuelling the fires in the state, and will likely hamper the firefighting efforts. The number of homes destroyed is predicted to climb given the favorable fire conditions and the lack of containment lines. The Black Forest Fire has not damaged any properties within the city limits of Colorado Springs, however, evacuations for parts of the city have been declared. Favorable fire conditions mean that the blaze will likely continue for another few days.
Sources: Reuters News, Associated Press, CNN, Denver Post
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