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Thousands flee wildfires in Colorado

13 June 2013, 09:06

San Francisco - Thousands of people fled fast-moving wildfires in Colorado on Wednesday as state officials also evacuated more than 900 inmates from a prison threatened by a blaze.

One of the fires was threatening the Royal Gorge Bridge which at a height of 291 metres is the world's highest suspension bridge. As of midday on Wednesday (19:00 GMT) the fire had burnt three buildings near the bridge, but the bridge itself was undamaged.

A second blaze, the Black Forest Fire, burnt between 80 and 100 houses, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. The fire spread to more than 3 200 hectares and was 0% contained. More than 7 000 people in more than 2 600 homes were ordered to evacuate.

"As you can tell, weather is not working with us, but our guys are giving it a heck of a shot," El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said. "The challenge we're facing is a lack of manpower."

Maketa compared the blaze to Colorado's most destructive wildfire, the so-called Waldo Canyon Fire one year ago, which reduced about 350 homes to ash and placed more than 30 000 people in the area under mandatory evacuation orders.

The current fire forced the transfer of inmates from the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility near Colorado Springs overnight on Wednesday.

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