COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A raging wildfire that forced tens of thousands to flee destroyed an estimated 346 homes in Colorado Springs this week, making it the most destructive fire in the state’s history, officials said.
On one street, all but three houses had burned to their foundations, said Ryan Schneider, whose home is still standing in a neighborhood where 51 others were destroyed.
“I was real happy at first. My wife was happy,” he said. “The emotion of seeing the other homes, though, was instant sadness.”
Amid the devastation in the foothills of Colorado Springs, there were hopeful signs. Flames advancing on the U.S. Air Force Academy were stopped, and cooler conditions could help slow the fire.
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said the 346 estimate could change. A fire in northern Colorado, which is still burning, destroyed 257 homes and until Thursday was the most destructive in state history.
More than 30,000 people frantically packed up belongings Tuesday night as the flames swept through their neighborhoods. While there’s no indication yet the blaze claimed any lives, fire officials said they would search each home looking for possible remains.
Community officials were planning to begin the process of notifying residents Thursday that their homes were destroyed.