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Colorado Springs fire: Progress, but full containment is days off

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity are continuing to aid firefighters battling the Waldo Canyon blaze near Colorado Springs, officials said Monday, but full containment remains at least 10 days away.

The fire, the most destructive in Colorado’s history, has consumed 17,827 acres and is being fought by 1,581 firefighters, according to officials’ morning status report. Containment was listed at 55%, with full containment not expected until July 12 at the earliest.

“Slow moving thunderstorms are expected over the fire today, officials noted in their morning post. “Winds produced by these storms may increase fire activity. The main focus for crews today will be to continue to secure the north perimeter of the fire along West Monument Creek.”

The Waldo Canyon fire has destroyed at least 346 homes. Other fires, including the High Park blaze near Fort Collins, have burned more acreage but fewer structures. The High Park blaze is 100% contained.

PHOTOS: U.S. wildfires 2012

So far, the Waldo Canyon fire is believed to be responsible for two deaths. The cost of fighting the fire, which is still under investigation, is being estimated at more than $11 million.

At the fire’s peak, more than 32,000 people were forced to leave their homes and flee, but most evacuation orders have been lifted. About 3,000 people remain out of their homes, officials said.

Local Dist. Atty. Dan May told reporters at a news conference that there have been some reports of looting in evacuated neighborhoods. He pledged to be tough on offenders.

The Waldo Canyon fire is among a rash of blazes across several Western states dealing with high heat, low humidity and tinder-like fuel

In Utah, officials said the state’s largest wildfire has consumed more than 225,000 acres in the western desert area. Known as the Clay Springs fire, it is about 48% contained. In Montana, the Ash Creek fire in the eastern part of the state has burned through more than 375,000 acres.

Other fires have been reported in Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico and Nevada.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com


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