Rich Harvey, the Incident Commander of the National Incident Management Team, places his hand over the Waldo Canyon Fire during a news conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado July 1, 2012. Crews battling a deadly Colorado wildfire ranked the most destructive in state history have made enough headway to allow most evacuees home, but concerns remain about rogue bears and burglaries in vacant houses, officials said on Saturday. The wildfire has been blamed for two deaths and the destruction of 346 homes, while 35,000 residents were forced to evacuate to escape the threat of flames and heavy smoke. (Photo : REUTERS/Adrees Latif)
The Waldo Canyon fire containment remains at 45 percent as of Sunday noon (local time), July 1st.
Signs such as residents returning to their homes and the reopening of important highways signal to a turning of the tables on a fire that during its week-long expansion burned more than 17,600 acres land.
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The Waldo fire has so far killed two, destroyed 346 homes and forced more than 35,000 people to evacuate their homes.
The destruction was great and damage widespread that it prompted President Obama to tour the fire-struck areas himself on Friday.
"Firefighters are working 18 hours a day, around the clock, trying to make sure that they get this blaze under control," the President said in a weekly address.
"And one of the things I've done here, in addition to saying thank you to these firefighters, is to let them know that all of America has their back.," the Obama continued.
The President announced continuous federal support for the fire-struck areas and requested all Americans to cooperate as well.
The fire alone has generated a tab that exceeds $8 million and it is already Colorado's most destructive in its history.
By Sunday morning, fire commander Rich Harvey told the press that 1,534 firefighters were currently out in the battlefield and that the fire-perimeters remained stable.
"We are cautiously optimistic," he said.
The commander warned of a different kind of threat to residents returning to their homes.
He mentioned that bears could possibly be roaming around since they could've been forced to move elsewhere because of the fires.
Fire Under Full-Control
The U.S. Forest Service predicted that it could be mid-July before the fire was fully under control.
However if the rate of the progressing containment remains similar to what has been witnessed these past two days, then it could be days and not weeks before people see a fire fully under control.
Help & Donations
Donations to those affected by the Waldo Canyon, Flagstaff, High Park and other fires could be directed by contacting the following agencies found in this domain:
Waldo Canyon Fire Map - July 1, 2012
View The Gazette's Evacuations Area and Fire Vicinity in a larger map