Remains of second person found in Colorado wildfire
Wildfires that firefighters are struggling to contain are still burning in Colorado and several other parts of the West. (Source: CNN)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (RNN) – The Waldo Canyon Fire has now claimed the lives of at least two people.
The remains of the second victim were found Friday. They were among the remnants of the same home that the first victim was discovered at on Thursday.
The fires burning through Colorado and neighboring states in the West are just 5 percent contained, despite the relentless efforts of multiple agencies.
Police Chief Pete Carey has told the Associated Press that fewer than 10 people are missing from the areas affected by the blaze.
Officials said the Waldo Canyon fire is now the most destructive is state history, burning 346 homes.
National Guard troops have been deployed to help Colorado Springs police deal with the disaster.
Officials are still gathering reports of damage from the blaze that is 45 percent contained, but it was reported more than 20,000 homes and 160 businesses were in danger from the fire.
The FBI in Denver is trying to determine whether the fire was started intentionally.
Evacuations are ongoing, and more than 36,000 people had been displaced as of Friday.
"We're still fighting with everything we've got," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said hundreds of homes have been destroyed by blazes that ate through the city's neighborhoods and threatened the Air Force Academy.
Officials moved more than 500 cadets to safety Wednesday evening, although their living quarters were not immediately threatened. More than 1,000 new cadets were expected to arrive Thursday.
It was estimated that Red Cross shelters near the area had enough room to house about 2,500 people.
President Barack Obama toured parts of Colorado that have been ravaged by the blazes, where he visited with firefighters on Friday. He has declared Colorado a disaster area due to the Waldo Canyon and High Park wildfires, making the state eligible for federal aid.
"We're going to continue to make sure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Forest Service, our military and National Guard and all the resources that we have available at the federal level are brought to bear in fighting this fire," Obama said in his weekly radio and internet address Saturday.
The High Park Wildfire is now 85 percent contained.
The number of fires that have broken out mixed with shifting winds and dry weather has put a strain on available resources. Firefighters got a little help Thursday after winds calmed in many parts of the region.
Although there is little containment of the blazes, the U.S. Forest Service's Director of Fire and Aviation Management Tom Harbour said there is reason to remain optimistic.
"With over 10,000 firefighters in the Forest Service and the ability to get over 700 aircraft of all types, we're feeling cautiously confident when you look at the season as a whole," Harbour said.
Wildfires are also burning in central Utah and Billings, MT, destroying dozens of homes and leading to the evacuation of hundreds of people. The Bridger-Teton National Forest Fire in Wyoming had burned about 19 square miles as of Wednesday.
More than $3.2 million has been spent on the Waldo Canyon fire alone, and 1,200 personnel and six helicopters are fighting the blaze.
The multiple fires that have broken out in Colorado and other parts of the West are among some of the worst wildfire events of the past decade:
Largest fires in Colorado history:
1. Hayman (2002) - Burned 137,760 acres and killed five firefighters; $39 million in firefighting costs.
2. High Park Fire (2012), Larimer County - Burned 87,250 acres; $29.6 million in firefighting costs.
3. Missionary Ridge (2002) - Burned 71,739 acres and killed one firefighter; $40 million in firefighting costs.
4. Last Chance grassland (2012) - Burned 44,000 acres.
5. Trinidad Complex (2002) – Burned 33,000 acres; $2.18 million in firefighting costs.
Largest fires in U.S. history:
1. Peshtigo, WI (October 1871) - Burned 3.8 million acres and killed 1,500.
2. Idaho and Montana (August 1910) - Burned 3 million acres and killed at least 85.
3. Southern California (October 2003) - Burned more than 800,000 acres and killed 22.
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