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    Waldo Canyon Fire Burns 300 Homes, Still Spreading

    By By Bill Deger, Meteorologist
    July 01, 2012, 4:26:11 AM EDT

    A large and growing wildfire burning out of control near Colorado Springs, Colo., has destroyed an estimated 300 homes and forced the evacuation of over 32,000 people in the region since Tuesday.

    The blaze, dubbed the "Waldo Canyon Fire," has already charred over 18,500 acres as of early Thursday, and was only five percent contained. The growth potential for the fire remains at extreme levels.

    According to Inciweb, the cost-to-date of the fire is $3.2 million.

    The weather late this week and into the weekend may contribute to more spreading of the dangerous wildfire.

    Weather for the Waldo Canyon Fire
    Heat and low relative humidity, generally in the teens during the day, through the weekend will continue to present challenging conditions for firefighters to gain ground on the massive blaze.

    There is little hope of relief from the fire weather through at least the middle of the summer.

    REALTED: Tragic Photos From the Waldo Canyon Fire

    Spotty late-day thunderstorms are expected to cause more harm than help, since they are not expected to produce much rain. Gusty winds from the storms could fan the flames, spreading the fire erratically, while lightning threatens to ignite new fires.

    More Details on the Waldo Canyon Fire
    More than 32,000 people have been ordered to evacuate across El Paso County, Colo., including nearly 10,000 in the city limits of Colorado Springs.

    Among the evacuees are civilians and military personnel on the base of the Air Force Academy on the edge of town.

    The fire spread rapidly on Wednesday as the high soared to 95 degrees. Relative humidity was low for most of the day before climbing a bit in the afternoon. A few thunderstorms, many without much rain, passed through the area during the afternoon.

    Gusty winds blowing in different directions on Wednesday caused it to grow by nearly 10,000 acres compared to early Tuesday night.

    A number of homes have already been destroyed on the northwest corner of the city, fire information officer Rob Deyeberg told Reuters.

    Firefighters reported to local CBS affiliate KCNC that about 300 homes have been burned to the ground as of late Wednesday night.


    In the meantime, more than 1,000 people will continue to work to contain the blaze, which is one of a number burning throughout the state in what Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling "the worst fire season in the history of Colorado."

    The Waldo Canyon Fire is not actually the largest fire in the state right now. Three other infernos have burned through more land in Colorado, led by the High Park Fire, which has charred 87,284 acres, but is 75 percent contained.

    Another large fire, burning near Boulder about 30 miles northwest of Denver, has forced the evacuation of more than two dozen homes.

    "According to the USDA Forest Service, there are more than 29 uncontained large fires occurring across the nation Tuesday," said AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Evan Duffey.

    One massive blaze in Utah turned deadly on Tuesday after officials found a body in the wake of the Wood Hollow Fire.

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