President Obama to tour Colorado wildfires

Dylan Stableford
The Ticket

President Obama will tour wildfire-ravaged Colorado on Friday, the White House announced Wednesday afternoon.

The president called Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach to express his concern, thank the state's firefighters and reiterate his support of the use of federal resources in battling the fires, the White House said.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president is being updated regularly on the wildfires in Colorado and other western states.

More than 8,400 personnel, 578 fire engines and 79 helicopters are fighting wildfires around the country, with more than half of the active federal wildfire-fighting resources in use in Colorado.

[How to help: Colorado wildfires]

The fast-moving Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs nearly doubled in size overnight, forcing as many as 32,000 residents to be evacuated.

On Tuesday, the blaze—fueled by 65 mph winds—jumped a perimeter set by firefighters, causing roads to be closed and part of the U.S. Air Force Academy to be shut down.

Hickenlooper, who surveyed the fire from the air, said, "It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine--it's almost surreal. You look at that, and it's like nothing I've seen before."

The Waldo Canyon wildfire is one of about a dozen burning in Colorado, including the High Park Fire—Colorado's second largest ever—which has scorched more than 83,000 acres, destroyed 248 homes and is blamed for at least one death. Overall, four people have died due to wildfires in the state this year.

On Monday, four C-130 military aircraft tankers were called in to help battle the blaze, dropping 3,000 gallons of fire retardant on the fire in shifts.