Colorado wildfire rages; Obama to visit on Friday

More than 30,000 have been displaced by the fire in the Colorado`s second-biggest city.

Updated: Jun 28, 2012, 11:41 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Colorado Springs: More than 30,000 have been displaced by the fire in the Colorado`s second-biggest city.

In the meantime, fire crews fought to save the US Air Force Academy and residents begged for information on the fate of their homes in Colorado Springs on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the White House said President Barack Obama will tour fire-stricken areas of Colorado on Friday and thank firefighters battling some of the worst fires to hit the American West in decades.

Colorado Springs Police chief Peter Carey said Obama`s visit to Colorado, considered a key battleground state in the Presidential Election, would not tax the city`s already-strained police force.

Governor John Hickenlooper said he expected the President might sign a disaster declaration that would allow for more federal aid.

Some 800 firefighters have been deployed to tackle the situation.

The full scope of the fire remained unknown. So intense were the flames and so thick the smoke that rescue workers weren`t able to tell residents which structures were destroyed and which ones were still standing.

Steve Cox, a spokesman for Mayor Steve Bach, reported that at least dozens of homes had been consumed.

Indeed, authorities were too busy on Wednesday struggling to save homes in near-zero visibility to count how many had been destroyed in what is the latest test for a drought-parched and tinder-dry state. Crews also were battling a deadly and destructive wildfire in northern Colorado and another that flared on Tuesday night near Boulder.

Carey said officials had no plans to release the numbers of homes destroyed — insisting residents have a right to be told first, in private.

FBI spokesman Dave Joly said federal investigators are working closely with local and state law enforcement to determine if any of Colorado`s fires were deliberately set or resulted from criminal activity. He did not elaborate.

Colorado wasn`t the only state affected by fire, as several burned throughout the parched West.

(With Agency inputs)