Colorado wildfires move toward US Air Force Academy (+videos)
Colorado wildfires: Winds fanned the flames of the Waldo Canyon wildfire in the direction of the US Air Force Academy. The Colorado Springs Academy shut down hiking trails west of the school. There are six major Colorado wildfires burning now.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
An out-of-control wildfire near some of Colorado's most visited tourist sites expanded overnight, keeping some 6,000 people from their homes on Monday, and forecasts said winds could push the flames toward the United States Air Force Academy.
On Monday morning, the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs, about 80 miles south of Denver, continued to burn near the base of Pikes Peak, whose vistas helped inspire the patriotic tune "America the Beautiful."
The fire had prompted the evacuation of 11,000 people on Sunday but residents of the town of Manitou Springs, often used as a base for visits to Pikes Peak, had been allowed home, leaving 6,000 people still displaced.
The fire was raging about six to 10 miles from the Air Force Academy as winds fanned the flames in its direction, and fire authorities listed the academy as being threatened by the blaze along with utilities, flood control structures and watershed.
A recreation area belonging to the Academy was ordered evacuated due to its proximity to the fire, and all trails leading west of the school were closed as a precaution, the base said on Monday.
But the blaze would still have to traverse rough terrain, burning down through steep canyons and up mountain ridges, before it would reach the Air Force Academy itself, Academy spokesman Meade Warthen said.
"We don't have any reason at this particular point to think were going to be inundated, but we're standing by," Warthen said. "There are contingency plans in place. If we need to implement them, we will."