Tens of Thousands Evacuated as Colorado Burns

Over 30,000 residents of Colorado Springs were ordered to evacuate as a 24 sq. mile wildfire jumped firefighting lines and entered the city

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Gabe Kahn,

Waldo Canyon fire, west of Colorado Springs,
Waldo Canyon fire, west of Colorado Springs,

Evacuation orders for more than 32,000 residents of Colorado Springs – including the US Air Force Academy – were frantically issued evacuation orders Wednesday as raging wildfire jumped firefighters' perimeter lines and entered the city.

According to officials, the fire doubled in size overnight to more than 24 square miles.

Authorities held a morning press conference Wednesday and urged residents to stay indoors because the air quality has deteriorated.

Officials also denied rumors that they're aware of what started the fires.

"It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine," Gov. John Hickenlooper said after viewing the fire from the air late Tuesday. "It's almost surreal."

Authorities are fighting the enormous fire with multiple agencies, and are utilizing heavy machinery and manpower to prevent the fire from spreading.

However, recent windy weather has hurt their effort and aided the fire in spreading. Early on Wednesday further trouble was predicted as  thunderstorms were seen gathering over the blaze.

Throughout the West, firefighters have toiled for days in searing, record-setting heat against fires fueled by prolonged drought.

Most of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana were under red flag warnings, meaning extreme fire danger.

The nation is experiencing "a super-heated spike on top of a decades-long warming trend," said Derek Arndt, head of climate monitoring at the National Climatic Data Center.

In northern Colorado, another fire – triggered by lighting on June 9 – has destroyed 257 homes.