It is being described as a fire of “epic proportions” and it is contributing to the worst fire season the American state of Colorado has ever seen.
The Waldo Canyon fire, one of a dozen raging through the state, has suddenly stepped up a gear, forcing the evacuation of 32,000 people from key tourist areas and the US Air Force Academy.
Cars stretched bumper to bumper along highways as road closure and the enforced shutdown of petrol stations made it harder for people to flee the flames.
Stuck in slow-moving traffic, Christie Martinez expressed her frustration saying: “It’s getting way, way too close, and I can’t believe they’re not getting people out of here faster, there are so many people that need to get out of here.”
The fire is currently swallowing houses in Colorado Springs as prairie winds from the east fan the flames.
“This is a fire storm of epic proportions,” said the city’s fire chief, Rich Brown. “We’re being watched across the country on how we handle it. It’s absolutely important that we understand that right now as we sit here, we have a ton of people, firefighters, from the county, the city, the state and the feds, all of us, arm in arm, putting this thing out as we speak.”
The proximity of tourist spots and the Air Force Academy has attracted widespread attention, but the Waldo Canyon fire is far from the fiercest currently raging.
While it has destroyed more than 6,000 acres of land, one blaze alone in neighbouring Utah has already swept through some 40,000 acres.