Western Wildfires 2012: 19 Fires Burn Nearly Half-Million Acres, 5 New Large Fires Reported

 @LauraMatt
on June 24 2012 12:12 PM
  • Colorado Wildfire 2012
    Western wildfires have burned nearly 500,000 acres of land so far and new ones have been reported. An out-of-control wildfire in Colorado Springs burned 2,000 acres, destroyed in Estes Park and shut down state highways in southern Colorado. IBTimes Photos
  • Colorado Springs Fire
    The city of Colorado Springs, Colo., is seen in the path of the Waldo Canyon wildfire burning in the mountains west of the city Sunday. Reuters
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Wildfires continue to rage in the Western U.S., with fast-moving flames forcing evacuations, engulfing structures and shutting down highways in some states.

Currently, 19 wildfires have burned nearly half a million acres, officials said on Friday. Additionally, five new large fires have been reported in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho and Utah.

Colorado has six active fires roaring across the state with the largest, the High Park Fire, blackening more than 80,000 acres. The lightning-sparked fire is 15 miles west of Fort Collins and has been blamed for at least one death. It also threatens subdivisions and recreation sites. Evacuations and road closures are still in effect.

An incident report on the High Park Fire has noted that as of June 19, nearly 1.3 million gallons of water have been dropped on the fire. To date, the cost of the fire has been estimated at $27.6 million.

Larimer County has since opened the High Park Fire Disaster Recovery Center at the Colorado State University Campus.

The Denver Post reported that a jetliner of firefighters has been called to the Western Slope, and they will be taken by buses throughout the state. Moreover, firefighting planes and helicopters are being positioned around Colorado and they are set to attack the many blazes.

We are preparing for the worst while hoping for the best, Steve Segin of the Rocky Mountain fire-incident team told the paper. We just have to hope Mother Nature gives us a break.

More than 1,923 personnel are working to out the High Park fire, which is only 45 percent contained.

In Colorado Springs, a wildfire in the Waldo Canyon hiking area grew out of control, swallowing up 2,000 acres. The blaze forced police to make door-to-door trips, prompting thousands of residents to evacuate. Homes were destroyed in Estes Park and state highways were shut down in southern Colorado, according to the Denver Post.

At least 11,000 residents were evacuated from the town of Manitou Springs and the nearby communities of Cascade, Chipita Park and Green Mountain Falls, according to the Associated Press.

Dry conditions, gusty winds and temperature in 90s provided perfect fuel for the fire.

Nine other states reported large fires as of Friday. They are Alaska (four), Arkansas (one), Arizona (four), Idaho (one), Nevada (one), New Mexico (two), North Carolina (one), Utah (one), and Wyoming (one), according to the national interagency Fire Center.

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