Monster wildfire rages in Colorado (+video)
Thousands flee homes as western wildfires persist. Utah's Governor Gary Herbert estimates the fire has caused millions of dollars worth of damage. Soot and smoke also worry residents.
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"They sleep with open windows, and when the wind shifts, in the middle of the night, they get sick," she said as she stood watching the blaze from a safe distance at a local high school. Their eyes are watering, they're coughing. I'm really, really worried about them."Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Wildfires sweeping the west
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The wildfire was one of about a dozen burning out of control around Colorado, including the much larger High Park Fire near Fort Collins, a university town north of Denver close to the Wyoming border.
"We're going to be continuing to have to deal with these fires for weeks to come," U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said. "We anticipate it's going to be a long fire season."
To the east of the Waldo Canyon blaze, a fast-moving prairie fire apparently sparked by a blowout on a passing vehicle torched 45,000 acres (18,210 hectares) of grassland and ripped through the town of Last Chance, population 25.
The blaze destroyed 11 buildings including four homes before being contained.
The High Park Fire - the state's second-largest blaze on record and its most destructive ever - has consumed 87,250 acres (35,308 hectares) in steep canyons since it was sparked by lightning two weeks ago. It is blamed for the death of a 62-year-old woman in her cabin and has destroyed 248 homes.
An estimated 4,300 people remain evacuated from their homes as that fire burns through grass, brush and Ponderosa pine.
In southwestern Colorado, the Weber Fire grew to 8,930 acres (3,615 ha) but firefighters held it back from the small town of Mancos, east of Mesa Verde National Park. Roughly 50 homes were evacuated, officials said.
Farther to the west, authorities said a body was found in the ashes of a house charred by Utah's fast-moving Wood Hollow Fire, marking the first fatality in a blaze that already has scorched more than 39,000 acres (15,780 ha). Fresh evacuations were ordered there on Tuesday.
The Wood Hollow blaze had already burned an estimated 30 homes and killed 75 sheep between the rural communities of Fountain Green and Indianola.
Governor Gary Herbert, who toured the fire by helicopter on Monday, estimated the property losses so far at $7 million. No injuries have been reported, but Herbert said fire officials did use a helicopter to rescue some shepherds from the fire's path.
[Editor's note: The subhead to an earlier version of this story gave the wrong state of which Gary Herbert is governor. Mr. Herbert is governor of Utah.]