Wildfires that began on Tuesday are rapidly spreading through parts of Colorado, and the weather will not help firefighters' efforts for the rest of this week.
The most dangerous fire in terms of the threat to populated areas is the Black Forest Fire located to the north and east of Colorado Springs.
During a 9:00 a.m. MDT Thursday news conference, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said, "Wind is our number one threat. It has been the game changer."
Sheriff Maketa said there have been no confirmed injuries or fatalities from the fire, but the blaze has destroyed 360 homes.
InciWeb reports that an estimated 15,702 acres have been scorched by the Black Forest Fire as of midday Friday. The fire is only 5 percent contained.
Thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate the massive blaze this week.
"You cannot drive a street in there without running into law enforcement," Maketa said.
Unfortunately, the weather is not expected to help firefighting efforts. Erratic winds will persist, threatening to cause the fire to spread in different directions. Localized gusts between 30 and 40 mph are possible during the afternoon hours Friday. Locally gusty winds will occur on Saturday afternoon as well. The threat for dry thunderstorms will occur on Saturday afternoon. A dry thunderstorm produces lightning but little to no rainfall.
The video of a narrow escape from the Black Forest Fire burning in Colorado was posted Youtube user waynelaugesen on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. People are urged to follow all evacuation mandates. Trying to get close to photograph or videotape fires can put your life in danger.
Besides the high winds, very dry conditions will also continue, adding to the dangerous fire conditions. As temperatures soar into the middle 90s and continue to challenge record highs Friday, humidity values will fall below below 20 percent across much of region.
The Colorado Office of Emergency Management reports that over 800 animals have required displacement assistance.
A second fire to the south and west of Colorado Springs in the Royal Gorge area burning 3,162 acres, according to Inciweb.
This fire is located within the Royal Gorge Park, which is a large tourist area according to Meteorologist Jim Andrews. Unlike the Black Forest fire, this one threatens much less in the way of structures, though it has forced the evacuation of the park and the Royal Gorge Bridge.
Two of the other fires in the state, one east of Alamosa, Colo., and one in Rocky Mountain National Park, are not nearly as big as the Black Forest or Royal Gorge fire. However, conditions are ripe for additional fire development into the weekend, especially as dry thunderstorms occur on Saturday.
Content contributed by AccuWeather Meteorologist Meghan Evans. Thumbnail image courtesy of AP Images.
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