Dramatic aerial footage shows the raging wildfires that have sparked the evacuation of thousands of homes in Colorado.
At least four major wildfires have broken out along the front of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, burning up to 60 houses and chasing people from thousands more homes.
Thick smoke plumes visible for miles billowed from fires near Colorado Springs, in southern Colorado, and in Rocky Mountain National Park to the north.
A wildfire in a residential area northeast of Colorado Springs forced mandatory evacuations of 2,530 homes, including some worth more than $1 million.
“Right now the firefighters are more focused on fighting fires, drawing lines. And law enforcement, to be very honest, is scrambling to get people out of there as well as do searches,” said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.
The area is not far from last summer’s devastating Waldo Canyon Fire that destroyed 346 homes and killed two.
“It’s very, very reminiscent of what we experienced in Waldo Canyon,” Sheriff Maketa added.
All the Colorado wildfires were moving quickly, driven by hot, gusty winds and record-setting temperatures.
The conditions were making it difficult to build containment lines around the fire, as sparks jumped across them.
“Weather is not working with us right now, but our guys are giving it a heck of a shot,” Sheriff Maketa said.
The wildfire also forced the evacuation of more than 900 prisoners from the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility outside Colorado Springs. The prison building has not been affected by the fire.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in any of the fires.
In southern Colorado, the Bureau of Land Management said three structures have been lost in a fire on about 300 acres near the Royal Gorge Bridge. Authorities evacuated Royal Gorge Bridge & Park.
The structure, which is claimed to be the world’s highest suspension bridge at 956 feet and spans a quarter mile across the Arkansas River, is not currently threatened.
A third wildfire in southern Colorado erupted on Tuesday in rural Huerfano County. The Klikus Fire had burned an estimated 45 to 50 acres west of La Veta, prompting evacuation orders to about 200 residences northeast of the fire.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or structure damage.
The cause of those fires was not immediately confirmed.
A fourth wildfire sparked by lightning on Monday in Rocky Mountain National Park quickly grew to an estimated 300 to 400 acres. No homes were threatened.