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Wildfire forces prison evacuation

Wildfire threatens homes in Colorado.

Wildfire threatens homes in Colorado.

DENVER — Fire crews battled a wind-whipped wildfire today that burned dozens of homes on the edge of Colorado Springs, while another blaze shut one of Colorado’s top tourist attractions and prompted the evacuation of more than 900 inmates from a prison.

The fire near Colorado Springs ignited yesterday and ripped through the Black Forest, 15 miles northeast of the city, said Mike Stearly, spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Centre.

The fast-moving blaze reached a residential neighbourhood where it razed between 40 and 60 homes and an unknown number of outbuildings by late yesterday, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said. He said the fire was estimated to cover an area of at least 8,000 acres.

Evacuation notices went out to several thousand local residents, and Army National Guard troops have been deployed to help local police agencies prevent looting in the area, Maketa said.

Maketa compared the conflagration to the so-called Waldo Canyon Fire in June 2012 – the most destructive wildfire in Colorado’s history. It reduced about 350 homes to ash in the Colorado Springs area and led authorities to place more than 30,000 people in the area under mandatory evacuation orders.

In neighbouring Fremont County, a 3,800-acre (1,540 hectare) wildfire broke out yesterday and prompted the evacuation of the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, the US Bureau of Land Management said in a statement. (Reuters)

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