At least 32,000 Colorado residents have been forced from their homes by a raging firestorm that has spread to 6,200 acres in the Waldo Canyon foothills, about 75 miles south of Denver.
Hot, dry and windy conditions have sparked at least six other fires statewide, including a new inferno in Boulder, about 30 miles northwest of the state capital, according to the state's Division of Emergency Management.
"It is like a convection oven out there," Anne Rys-Sikora, fire-response team representative, told CNN.
Firefighters have only contained about 5 percent of the Waldo Canyon fire, which has infringed on the nearby U.S. Air Force Academy, causing 700 residents of two housing divisions on the site to be evacuated.
The largest fire in the state is in High Park, 15 miles west of Fort Collins, which has torched more than 83,000 acres. Firefighters told CNN on Tuesday that this fire was 65 percent contained. A fire in Leadville, about 100 miles southwest of Denver, has lit up at least 300 acres. Fire officials told KUSA-TV that no structures were in danger and the nearest homes were miles away.
On Wednesday morning, the U.S. Forest Service registered 33 wildfires in the American west, three in the Southeast and six in Alaska.
Hot, dry and windy conditions are in store for most of the state, according to the National Weather Service.
On Wednesday the agency issued a red flag warning for much of the southern half of the state, saying low humidity, high winds and hot temperatures "will create explosive fire growth potential."
In neighboring Utah, where at least four wildfires are raging, the Wood Hollow fire south of Salt Lake City has claimed at least one life and burned at least 600 acres. Some people evacuated on Tuesday were being allowed to return to their homes Wednesday, while others in the town of Fairview, 95 miles south of Salt Lake City, were being told to evacuate.
One hundred girls from a nearby camp were evacuated to a church in Fairview, but later had to be evacuated again as the fire threatened the area, according to local media reports.
In Montana, the Dahl wildfire in Roundup, about 50 miles north of Billings, has torched at least 60 homes, according to the Billings Gazette.
"I've been through this once before but thought my place might be safe," Roundup resident Kevin Prophett told the paper. "The fire in '84 was huge, but boy, it was nothing like this one."
Prophett said he relased his three horses before evacuating his homestead, hoping they would be able to escape the fire on their own. His home would not be spared.
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