COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Authorities confirmed Thursday at least 346 homes have been destroyed by the Waldo Canyon Fire, making it the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history.
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach delivered the somber news at an afternoon press briefing, saying individual homeowners would be notified of their losses during an evening meeting for residents only.
“This is going to be a tough evening, but were going to get through it,” said Bach. “This community is going to mount an unprecedented response to this.”
Bach said the assessment is preliminary and the number of homes destroyed could rise.
“This community is going to surround (the fire victims) with love and encouragement, and we’re going to move forward as a city like we never have,” Bach said.
Containment of the 18,500-acre fire improved to 10-percent Thursday and fire commanders reported “significant progress” toward strengthening containment lines.
Evacuation orders were lifted at 8 p.m. for residents on the east side of the fire perimeter, including Kissing Camels, Holland Park, Pine Cliff, Pleasant Valley and portions of Rockrimmon.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The Waldo Canyon Fire now surpasses the 87,000-acre High Park Fire in Larimer County (257) in terms of homes lost.
133 homes were destroyed in 2002’s Hayman Fire.