Huge Wildfires Hit Colorado And New Mexico

Posted by on Jun 14, 2012 | Comments Off on Huge Wildfires Hit Colorado And New Mexico

 

Hundreds of firefighters have joined efforts to tackle two of the biggest wildfires ever seen in the US states of Colorado and New Mexico.

Smaller fires also burnt in nine drought-stricken western states, including Utah, California and Arizona.

The Colorado blaze shrouded the state capital, Denver, 60 miles (100km) away, in smoke, hampering rescue efforts.

A woman has died in the blaze, which has burned about 46,720 acres (73 sq miles).

In Colorado’s Larimer County, authorities and family members said Linda Steadman, 62, died inside her mountain cabin.

Sheriff Justin Smith said that her home had received two evacuation warnings that were not answered, AP reports.

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According to a national incident information website, a fire in two national parks in Colorado – dubbed the High Park Fire – has scorched nearly 47,000 acres of forest.

By Wednesday afternoon, the High Park fire was about 10% contained.

“We’re gaining,” Bill Hahnenberg, a US Forest Service commander responsible for the fire told reporters.

About 118 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the blaze in the state – believed to have been started by lightning.

Hundreds of people had to be evacuated and some 800 firefighters were sent to the scene. Reports suggest it has cost $3m (£1.9m) to fight the blaze.

Another resident, Jan Gueswel, told the Associated Press that as she left her home flames 200ft (61m) high were raging on the only road out.

But she would not want to live anywhere else, she said.

“I would rather live in Poudre Park than in an apartment where I don’t know what my neighbour is doing,” Ms Gueswel said.

Rescuers said all that was left on the sites of homes destroyed by the Little Bear fire was heaps of scorched metal.

“It’s truly heartbreaking to see the damage done to this beautiful part of the country,” New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez said after visiting the area.

But officials were sounding cautious optimism by Wednesday afternoon over another large fire in New Mexico.

Mr McAlister said fire containment lines were working against the blaze, which has burned over 275,000 acres since mid-May.

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