COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – The Waldo Canyon Fire in the Colorado Springs on Tuesday night began destroying homes and forced tens of thousands more to evacuate on Tuesday.
Homes could be seen burning in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood engulfed by the fire Tuesday night. It’s not clear how many homes were destroyed but at 10:45 p.m. dozens of homes could still be seen on fire. Some are calling the destruction “epic.”
Early Tuesday night new evacuations were ordered for Rockrimmon and Woodmen Valley, west and north of Woodmen Road and Interstate 25 and west and north of Rockrimmon Boulevard and Vindicator Drive. Also under evacuation orders is Pinon Valley and Pine Cliff, west and north of Garden of the Gods Road and I-25 to Centennial north to Ute Valley Park.
PHOTO GALLERY: Waldo Canyon Fire
The Air Force Academy ordered evacuations for more than 2,100 residents on its grounds.
As of 9 p.m. Tuesday a total of 32,000 residents have been ordered to evacuate.
Gov. John Hickenlooper arrived to address the public after touring other fires in the state. He said he witnessed a lot of destruction from the air.
“We saw a pretty grim scene … an army of firefighters couldn’t stop that,” Hickenlooper said. “At first I thought they were trees burning once we came in on the helicopter, and they were houses. The devastation is pretty intense.”
In the late afternoon about 7,000 people in North Mountain Shadows — where homes have burned — and Peregrine were ordered to evacuate as the fire was making a big run towards that subdivision. The evacuations were on top of the 4,825 people previously evacuated from 2,599 homes in other areas.
The Red Cross shelter at the Cheyenne Mountain High School is open. Residents can bring small caged pets and companion animals (cats & dogs) with them to the shelter. The Penrose Equestrian Center is sheltering large animals.
CBS4 video captured at 10:30 a.m. showed flames getting closer to the Cedar Heights neighborhood west of Garden of the Gods as winds were blowing very strong from the south all day.
Flames could be seen getting dangerously close to homes. Fortunately there is a quarry between the fire and the homes in the Cedar Heights neighborhood. The fire would have to jump the quarry to get to the houses. As of 5 p.m. officials said Cedar Heights was in better shape.
Tuesday afternoon CBS4’s Rick Sallinger was taken on a tour of the fire along Highway 24 west to the town of Cascade. He reported seeing trees burning along side of the road. Spotters were seen chasing embers to keep the fire spreading to the other side of the highway. One ember did.
“It had a lot of potential of starting to spread on me right when I got up there and I had the rest of my crew bumping up there with tools and packs; bladder bags with water,” Bureau of Land Management firefighter Leif Larson said.
The fire has now burned into Queen’s Canyon.
Two more helicopters were called in to help with the fire on Tuesday, and three of the nation’s C-130 planes were dropping more slurry on the fire.
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