Hundreds of Colorado Springs homes destroyed in fire

Media caption,
Gov John Hickenlooper: "There is nothing firefighters can do, when you get this kind of weather".

Hundreds of homes in Colorado Springs have been destroyed by a wildfire in the western US state, which killed at least one person.

About 346 homes have been razed, making it the most destructive fire in Colorado's history, officials say.

Some of the more than 30,000 people who fled the flames in the state's second-biggest city on Tuesday night have been told they can return.

A body was later found in one of the gutted houses.

President Barack Obama is due to tour the affected areas on Friday.

The fire, which has caused an estimated $3.2m (£2m) of damage, was 10% contained as of midday on Thursday after half of America's fire fighting resources had been deployed.

"We made significant progress on the ground," Jerried Marr, a US Forest Service spokeswoman, told reporters.

Some residents who live in the burned neighbourhoods have been able to tell if their homes have been destroyed by looking at aerial photos.

Image caption,
Aerial views of Colorado Springs show houses reduced to rubble

On one street, all but three houses had burned to their foundations, Ryan Schneider told the Associated Press. His home is standing, but 51 others in his neighbourhood were razed.

"I was real happy at first. My wife was happy," he said. "The emotion of seeing the other homes, though, was instant sadness."

Two people have been arrested in connection with a burglary at an evacuated home, Colorado officials said.

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach told residents and reporters he had seen many community members reaching out to help.

"This is going to be a tough evening, but we're going to get through it. We will move forward as a community."

Colorado accounts for eight of 35 large wildfires which are also sweeping parts of Montana, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California.

In Utah, a body was found in the ashes of a fast-moving wildfire to the south of Salt Lake City.

The Waldo Canyon Fire, which began on Saturday, was fanned towards Colorado Springs by high winds.

The city of 419,000 people is home to the sprawling campus of the academy for US Air Force cadets.

Fires threatening the school have been halted, and cooler conditions prevailed by late Thursday.

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