Colorado Fires Force 2,000+ Home Evacuation: 4,000 Acre Royal Gorge Blaze Is 'Zero Percent Contained' [PHOTOS, VIDEO & REPORT]
The Colorado Royal Gorge fire intensifies as authorities confirm three structures were destroyed by the 4,000 acre blaze near Canon City, Colorado. Merely one of four raging wildfires across the state, the Royal Gorge fire prompted a state prison of Colorado Springs to perform an evacuation of its 900 prisoners.
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While the fire had yet to reach the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, the evacuation was ordered due to the threat of severe smoke.
"This was done as a precaution because it takes a lot of time to move the prisoners," explained Department of Corrections spokeswoman Adrienne Jacobson. The prisoners were moved to other prisons in the Front Range area overnight.
The Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility's medium- and low-risk prisoners were evacuated via shuttle buses; 24 of the prisoners were escorted from an infirmary, some of whom were in wheelchairs.
While the Royal Gorge fire burned down three buildings, the Royal Gorge Bridge was thankfully spared. The wildfire was estimated at 3,800 acres yesterday. New reports reveal the Royal Gorge fire has since expanded to nearly 4,000 acres. Record temperatures and strong winds are dangerously fanning the flames. According to USA Today, there is zero percent containment of the Colorado fire.
"Weather is not working with us right now, but our guys are giving it a heck of a shot," El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.
The Inquisitor reported extensive damage to Rocky Mountain National Park due to the Royal Gorge fire. A critical situation, Sheriff Terry Maketa says more than 150 firefighters were deployed as well as a UH-60 Black Hawk army helicopter while a National Guard helicopter was on standby to rescue evacuees.
"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," said Maketa.
Beyond the Royal Gorge fire, the Black Forest fire northeast of Colorado Springs has tragically torched at least 40 homes and prompted the evacuation of 2,300 families. According to Sheriff Maketa late Tuesday, a total of 6,400 people were affected by the blaze.
A total of six helicopters and an air tanker were deployed at the Black Forest Fire. C-130 cargo planes are expected to contain the fires as well.
The third wildfire is located in southern Colorado in the rural Huerfano County. The Klikus Fire has burned 50 acres of land west of La Veta. 200 homes are evacuated.
Finally, the fourth wildfire, caused by a lightning strike, has burned up to 400 acres of Rocky Mountain National park. No structures were threatened.
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