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Surging Colorado wildfires forcing tens of thousands to flee (+video)

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It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) told the Associated Press after flying over the fire late Tuesday. "It's almost surreal. You look at that, and it's like nothing I've seen before."

About half of the active federal wildfire-fighting resources are now staged in Colorado, including firefighters, helicopters, and air tankers. And by midafternoon Wednesday, several massive C-130 air tankers had dropped about 27,000 gallons of fire retardant on the Waldo Canyon fire.

Meanwhile, Boulder, Colo., to the northwest of Denver, faced its own fire worries after a lightning strike sparked several fires Tuesday. While most of the fires were quickly contained, one just outside city limits quickly grew to 300 acres and resisted firefighters' efforts to contain it.

Smoke billowed out behind the Flatirons – the striking ridge on Boulder's southwest side – Tuesday and Wednesday, and the city sent "pre-evacuation" alerts to nearly 2,500 South Boulder telephone numbers, asking residents to be prepared to evacuate quickly should the order come. Planes flew over the site Wednesday, including two  C-130 air tankers dropping slurry. So far, just 28 homes have been evacuated, but the fire's proximity to densely populated areas, combined with high winds and treacherously dry conditions, have Boulder residents on edge.

And firefighters were worried about possible winds and continued hot, dry conditions in the forecast. "Mother Nature has not been cooperating around Colorado, and we're not expecting any different this afternoon," Boulder fire spokeswoman Kim Kobel said in a media briefing Wednesday.

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