An aerial view of the Mountain Shadows subdivision in Colorado Springs where most homes were destroyed in the Waldo Canyon Fire June 27 (credit: John Wark)

DENVER (CBS4) – Fire officials battling the Waldo Canyon Fire say they hope to make major progress in the effort to contain the blaze on Thursday.

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach announced Thursday afternoon that 346 homes had burned in the fire across 34 streets. That makes the Waldo Canyon Fire the most destructive in Colorado history.

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Despite strong wind gusts on Wednesday, the fire experienced the smallest amount of growth in a day since it started on June 23.

“We made significant progress today. The weather cooperated with us today like it has on no other day since this fire started,” said Pike National Forest spokesman Gerri Marr.

Federal fire incident commander Rich Harvey credited that to the hard work of the more than 1,000 personnel battling the blaze.

“Our assets have wheels, they have tracks, they have rotors, they have wings, they have boots, they have pens, they have maps, they have weather balloons. We have not rested to get the right equipment here to do the job that’s necessary, and I think it’s finally starting to show up in terms of we were able to hold onto the majority of this fire through a major wind event yesterday,” Harvey said Thursday morning.

The fire is now listed at 18,500 acres and it is about 10 percent contained. Approximately 32,000 people remain evacuated. The Red Cross has five different shelters set up. (Full Story)

CoBach said authorities are contacting and working with homeowners who have lost homes. Homeowners will gather for a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday to find out whether their homes have been lost.

“We’re going to meet with them individually and privately to not only tell them the situation but also to reassure them that this city and our community is going to do everything in our power to support them,” Bach said.

A meeting ONLY for residents of the streets below will be held tonight to inform them of the status of their homes at 8 p.m., Gallogly Events Center, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
At 6 p.m., buses depart shelters and check-in opens, at 8 p.m. the residents meeting begins, at 9 p.m. a press conference at the media staging area with resident from the meeting who will give interviews.

This meeting is for residents of the following streets only. This is NOT a public meeting. Residents should bring identification to gain meeting access. Refreshments will be provided. Counselors will be available.

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Residents of these streets should attend: Trevor Lane, Linger Way, Rossmere Street, Tallesson Court, Sandray Court, Majestic Drive, Ravina Court, Regal View Road, Stoneridge Drive, Heartstone Lane, Karamy Court, Lionsgate Lane, Hot Springs Court, Jenner Court, Brogans Bluff, Darien Way, Rayburn Way, Braeburn Way, Timora Way, Mirror Lake Court, Wilson Road, Harbor Pines Point, Yankton Place, Chambrey Court, Charing Court, Ashton Park Place, Courtney Drive, Vantage Vista Drive, Vantage Ridge Court, Huffman Court, Aubrey Way, Van Reen Drive, Alabaster Way and Lannigan Street.

The weather is giving the firefighters a bit of a break on Thursday, and incident commander Harvey hopes to take advantage of that. It will be the first time in many days that red flag conditions won’t be in effect.

“Today we are going to be incredibly aggressive on this fire. We have the first break in the weather that we’ve had since we’ve been here. We have the horsepower in place,” he said. “We will continue to make sure that the firefighters have good, clear assignments and safe places to engage this fire.”

Harvey said firefighters are focused on trying to prevent the spread of the fire to the north, where it could impact Woodland Park in Teller County, and they are also continuing to work to protect as much of the Mountain Shadows subdivision in the northwest corner of Colorado Springs as they can.

An undetermined number of homes in the Mountain Shadows area have already burned, and smoke continues to “kick up” Thursday in the Blodgett Peak Open Space to the west of those homes.

Harvey said resources on this fire come from “an alphabet soup of agencies,” including federal firefighters, local firefighters, out-of-state firefighters and even Fort Carson fire crews, who are working on some areas on the Air Force Academy grounds near the fire.

The fire started on June 23 in the Pike National Forest and tripled in size on Tuesday in extreme heat and heavy winds. So far there’s no word on how the fire started, but the FBI is involved in the investigation.

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