Colo. Resident: Fire has created panic — Gov. Addresses Arson
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Thousands of Colorado Springs residents remained evacuated Thursday because of massive wildfires in the region. Reporter and resident Barrett Tryon was one of those evacuated.
Tryon said he estimates about 40,000 people have been evacuated. He added that although police and fire officials won’t confirm the amount of homes destroyed, he estimates about 300 were claimed by the blaze.
“It happened so quickly, so fast,” he said. “It jumped a reservoir — a half a mile. We never thought it would go over the ridge.”
When the fire broke out on Saturday, Tryon said of the 14,000 residents who lived closest to the blaze, 7,000 were evacuated. On Tuesday, the other 7,000 were forced to leave their homes.
“It was a shock to everyone. And then, literally, within two hours people’s homes were gone,” he said. “It has been an absolute sense of panic that, really, the whole major northwest side of Colorado Springs has been evacuated. I have no idea if I still have my home. There’s thousands of others who don’t.”
Tryon said the city of Colorado Springs has done a great job providing residents information. He added that the hashtag #waldocanyonfire on Twitter is a great resource for those looking to stay informed.
On Thursday, CNN reported that calming winds could help firefighters in their battle to put out the blaze. While Tryon estimates 40,000 people have been evacuated, CNN reported a more conservative 36,000.
President Barack Obama is expected to travel to Colorado Springs on Friday to survey the damage.
Investigation Arson Possibility
In Denver, the FBI have joined local authorities who are investigation reports that the fire may have been intentionally set.
“It infuriates me, and it just makes my blood boil,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to CNN. “It creates a physical reaction in me … to think that there’s someone out there, because they get some kick … there’s some joy that they get (from setting a fire).”
In addition to calming winds on Thursday, temperatures are expected to be cooler — in the lower 90s. Winds are expected to be no more than 10 mph, far less than the 65 mph gusts that helped spread the flames down canyons, across reservoirs and past containment lines.
According to the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, the fire had consumed 181,426 acres by Wednesday afternoon. An estimated $33.5 million has been spent trying to contain the blaze.