COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - At least four major wildfires broke out along the front of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Tuesday, burning a handful of houses and chasing people from thousands of homes in hot, gusty weather.
Thick smoke plumes visible for hundreds of miles billowed from fires near Colorado Springs, in southern Colorado, and in Rocky Mountain National Park to the north.
The most serious appeared to be a wildfire in a residential area northeast of Colorado Springs, where 2,530 homes faced mandatory evacuations.
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said that about eight homes had burned, but had no exact number because the fire was moving so quickly across parched forest.
"Right now the firefighters are more focused on fighting fires, drawing lines. And law enforcement, to be very honest, is scrambling to get people out of there as well as do searches," Maketa said.
Three helicopters were battling the Colorado Springs fire, he said. The area is not far from last summer's devastating Waldo Canyon Fire that destroyed 346 homes and killed two.
All the Colorado wildfires were moving quickly, driven by hot, gusty winds and record-setting temperatures.
"Weather is not working with us right now, but our guys are giving it a heck of a shot," Maketa said.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in any of the fires.
In southern Colorado, the Bureau of Land Management said three structures have been lost in a fire on about 300 acres near the Royal Gorge Bridge. Authorities evacuated Royal Gorge Bridge & Park.
A third wildfire in southern Colorado erupted Tuesday in rural Huerfano County. The Klikus Fire had burned an estimated 45 to 50 acres west of La Veta, prompting evacuation orders to about 200 residences northeast of the fire.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or structure damage from the Klikus Fire.
A fourth wildfire was burning in Rocky Mountain National Park, covering 300 to 400 acres. No structures were threatened.
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