A wildfire in Colorado grew quickly this weekend, prompting authorities to evacuate residents and vacationers near Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
A wildfire near Colorado Springs erupted and grew out of control to more than 3 square miles over the weekend, prompting the evacuation of a popular vacation town and the closure of nearby highways Sunday.
At least 11,000 residents of the town of Manitou Springs and nearby communities of Cascade, Chipita Park and Green Mountain Falls were ordered to leave Saturday or early Sunday. The resort communities include campgrounds, inns, rental cabins and other vacation properties that were emptied, though it wasn't immediately clear how many people those evacuations included.
The fire quickly grew to more than 2,000 acres amid tinder dry conditions, gusty winds and temperatures that reached into the 90s.
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It also prompted evacuations for the west side of Colorado Springs and in the towns of Cascade and Ute Pass, but no structures have been destroyed and no buildings were under immediate threat.
The Garden of the Gods park, which has dramatic red rock formations, was also closed. Officials also closed traffic into Manitou Springs, a vacation town at the base of Pikes Peak, and shut down the Pikes Peak Highway, which goes to the top of the mountain.
Manitou Springs fire department's chaplain and public information officer, the Rev. David Hunting, said the orders were precautions because "fires can change their behavior dramatically" in such weather conditions.
In some neighborhoods, police cruisers rolled down streets, issuing the order to leave through a loudspeaker.
"Colorado Springs Police Department," an officer said. "This is a mandatory evacuation notice. Evacuate now."
Hundreds of other residents were under voluntary evacuation orders and were packing up, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported Saturday.