Crews fight to keep fire away from AF Academy
June 26, 2012
Denver — (AP) — Firefighters battled to keep a wildfire from burning toward the Air Force Academy and residential areas north of Colorado Springs on Tuesday.
The Waldo Canyon fire was 10 to 15 miles from the academy campus Monday, but officials weren’t sure if it had moved closer.
The fire west of Colorado Springs grew about 1 square mile overnight to 8 square miles. Authorities said a shed was destroyed but no homes have been damaged.
About 5,000 people remained evacuated.
The fire, which started Saturday, was 5 percent contained. The cause was under investigation.
Two specially equipped Air Force C-130 planes helped fight the fire Monday. A third is expected Tuesday.
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Some hiking trails leading west from the academy campus have been closed, but the new class of cadets is still scheduled to report on Thursday, Tech Sgt. Raymond Hoy said.
“We are open for business,” he said.
Sightings of deer and bear on campus have increased since Monday, Hoy said, probably because the animals are fleeing the fire.
School health officials are monitoring air quality and commanders are discussing what precautions they might take if the fire moves closer.
The fire was one of at least a half-dozen burning across the state amid dangerously dry conditions and 100-degree temperatures.
The Last Chance fire on Colorado’s eastern plains grew from a few acres to 60 square miles in less than a day and burned at least two homes. It wasn’t immediately clear if any were destroyed.
The fire started Monday and triggered evacuations in the towns of Last Chance and Woodward, about 60 miles east of Denver.
The High Park fire 15 miles west of Fort Collins remained at about 130 square miles and was 55 percent contained. The fire killed one person and destroyed 248 houses, a state record.
Lightning started the fire on June 9.
Some of the other fires burning in Colorado on Tuesday:
— The Little Sand fire had burned 34 square miles 13 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs. It was 29 percent contained.
— The Weber fire six miles south of Mancos had burned 13 square miles and was 10 percent contained.
— The Treasure fire five miles northeast of Leadville had burned about one-half square mile and was also 10 percent contained.