At least one person has died in the wildfire outside Colorado Springs, and President Barack Obama visited the stricken state on June 29 to survey the damage and express condolences.
“This has been a devastating early fire season for Colorado,” he told reporters, according to MSNBC, “heartbreaking for these families.” He also signed a disaster declaration.
Nationally 47 “large, active” wildfires were burning on Friday, MSNBC reported, most of them in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
The 16,700-acre Waldo Canyon Fire has burned down at least 346 homes, CNN reported, with another 20,000 homes and 160 businesses “dangerously close to the blaze.”
Media outlets reported that a charred body was found in the rubble of one destroyed home and that another person was unaccounted for.
Another round of evacuations were ordered from the Colorado Springs area on Wednesday June 27, as 3,000 more people were told to leave their homes in addition to the 32,000 people who had done so on Tuesday. Colorado Springs is the state’s second-largest city.
According to MSNBC, eight fires have burned down nearly 100 homes and other buildings in Montana, with hundreds of evacuations, mostly near Roundup; another in Utah destroyed more than 56 structures and was only 20 percent contained, and another eight destroyed north of Zion National Park, and in Wyoming, a fire in Bridger-Teton National Forest was burning 36 square miles, the network said.
The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana was among the afflicted, with at least 11 homes lost in the Ash Creek Complex fire. The lightning-caused fire was burning on 110,700 acres (173 square miles) as of Friday June 29 and was just five percent contained, InciWeb reported.