A row of totally destroyed homes is seen next to an undamaged house in the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs. (Photo : REUTERS/Rick Wilking)
The recent Waldo Canyon wildfire in Colorado has been raging for five days now and still devastating people and the countryside with no end in sight. Luckily, a break in the weather has officials confident they can make headway today and for the first time they announced an assessment of the damage done so far.
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Lighter winds and lower temperatures have firefighters optimistic that today they can make a large push towards containing the fire. The fire has burned 18,500 acres around Colorado Springs, the state's second largest city. Currently, only around 5 percent of the fire is contained, according to officials.
The fire broke out last Saturday and broke through containment lines Tuesday as it was spurred on by high temperatures and wind. Bad weather has made fighting the fire difficult, and more than half of the nation's federal wildfire fighting services have been deployed to the Waldo Canyon fire.
Public officials are beginning to make their first announcements regarding the fire, which has been difficult to assess.
"There was nothing left in some areas, burned out foundations that were smoldering. It looked like a nuclear weapon had been dropped. It's as close to hell as I could imagine," said Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach.
Over 35,000 people have been evacuated, and as aerial footage of the destruction rules the airwaves, many are wondering about their homes. Until now, officials refused to offer numbers, stating that conditions did not allow for a proper inventory of the damage.
Today, the mayor broke the silence.
"We now know that hundreds of homes have been destroyed," he said during a press conference.
Officials also estimate that some 21,000 homes are within reach of the fire.
Despite the seemingly uncontrollable nature of the wildfire, firefighters and the mayor are optimistic about beating the flames.
"Yesterday was a good day, and firefighters have made progress," incident commander Rich Harvey said at a news briefing on Thursday.
"We have had the first break in the weather in the days since we have been here. Now we're going to go after it aggressively."
President Obama plans to visit the city and tour destroyed areas on Friday.