Report: Colorado blaze started near hiking trail
July 7, 2012
DENVER (AP) — Dispatch recordings show that Colorado’s deadly Waldo Canyon wildfire appeared to have started near a popular hiking trail west of Colorado Springs.
The recordings indicate that firefighters searched the Waldo Canyon trail on the evening of June 22 and morning of June 23 trying to find the source of smoke, The Denver Post (http://bit.ly/RqTtsM ) reported Friday. The source was not found because wind dispersed the smoke.
The National Weather Service in Pueblo said there were no thunderstorms there on June 22 or 23. The fire exploded on June 23, the same day that dispatch recordings showed at least two firefighters said the flames apparently started in the area they had searched.
“This is the same place we had a fire last night,” an unidentified firefighter from the Cascade Volunteer Fire Department said. “It is on a ridge trail.”
Another firefighter said he and another hiked the area on the morning of June 23 looking for the source of smoke.
“We hiked around there for quite a while,” that firefighter said. “There was nothing at that time. But it looks like it was there.”
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Authorities say they’ve pinpointed the fire’s origin, but they haven’t released details. Investigators have asked people who were in the Waldo Canyon area on June 22 and June 23 to contact them with any help for their probe into the cause.
The fire was 98 percent contained on Friday. Fire managers expected to have it fully contained by the end of the day.
The fire killed two people and destroyed nearly 350 homes after it moved into Colorado Springs. At one point, the blaze prompted evacuations affecting more than 30,000 residents. Many have returned home, and residents of 76 more homes were being allowed to go home Friday evening.