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32,000 evacuated as wildfires threaten Colorado City

Fleeing locals describe "apocalypse" and clogged highways as Waldo Canyon fire prompts mass evacuations.

colorado wildfires 6 27 2012Enlarge
A Sikorsky S-64 Aircrane firefighting helicopter circles as it prepares to drop water on a hotspot near Horsetooth Reservoir on Monday June 11, 2012 near Laporte, Colorado. (Marc Piscotty/AFP/Getty Images)

The Colorado wildfires have forced 32,000 people from their homes in Colorado Springs, with the Denver Post reporting that numerous houses were engulfed in flames on Tuesday night.

KDVR cited El Paso County Sheriff as saying the the Waldo Canyon fire had prompted the evacuations — including 2,100 from the US Air Force Academy north of the city, Fox reported — and burnt about 6,500 acres so far.

Witnesses on Twitter reportedly described the scene as "an apocalypse" and "terrifying," with the Interstate and other highways clogged with people fleeing the area.

Photos have been posted of Colorado Springs wrapped in an orange and black cloud while images from NASA's Aqua satellite show that plumes of smoke from several separate Colorado fires — High Park, Waldo Canyon, Weber and Little Sand — can be seen from space, KUNC Radio reported.

The High Park fire alone has burnt nearly 90,000 acres since June 9.

"People are freaking out," the Post quoted Kathleen Tillman of northern Colorado Springs as saying. "You are driving through smoke. It is completely pitch black, and there is tons of ash dropping on the road."

The fires have spread over wooded areas, fanned by strong winds and high temperatures, and despite the efforts of more than 700 firefighters and numerous aircraft.

The US Air Force has dispatched C-130 military transport planes to help fight the Waldo Canyon fire.

More from GlobalPost: Waldo Canyon Fire: More than 11,000 evacuated as fire rages

Firefighters attacked a new wildfire west of Boulder late Tuesday afternoon, the Post reported, adding that it was a fast-growing blaze that had forced evacuations and put hundreds in the city's southern neighborhoods on alert.

Officials say the Flagstaff Fire, as it is being called, is moving quickly toward the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a federally-funded research facility, 9news.com reported.

New wildfires lit up across six Western states over the past month, drawing 6,000 firefighters in the effort to contain them.

Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado are under a red flag warning, while tourist destinations from Montana to New Mexico are considered in danger.

Temperatures in Denver on Monday cleared 100 degrees for the fourth-straight day, reaching a record high of 105. 

More from GlobalPost: Rich People have a dirty little secret...
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120627/colorado-wildfires-denver-boulder-flagstaff-evac