‘Hundreds of homes’ destroyed in Waldo Canyon Fire

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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. --The number of homes destroyed by the Waldo Canyon Fire was still uncertain Thursday morning, but a number could be forthcoming Thursday afternoon and it's expected to be "in the hundreds," according to Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach.

"We now know that hundreds of homes have been destroyed," Bach said. "We are working through the process of assessing every address to make sure we have absolutely accurate information."

Several media outlets, including FOX31, have estimated that the number of homes lost in the flames is near 300. Bach said he hopes to have a more precise number as early as noon Thursday.

Bach asked the media to respect the privacy of homeowners as the process of identifying the homes that have been destroyed continues, saying he hoped to meet with the owners of every home that has been lost "individually and privately."

"The worst thing we could do would be to put out information that's inaccurate," Bach said. "People who are going through this are already going through enough pain and anguish. We've got to make sure we get this right."

Colorado Springs Fire Chief Tommy Smith said no homes were lost Wednesday night and said that the weather pattern Thursday should be "about the same" as Wednesday-- a day that featured some rain and cooler temperatures.

The loss of homes is something Smith said his crews take personally.

"One of the stories that I heard last night when crews were going through the scene was that they were not saying that a homeowner had lost a home, they were saying that they had lost a home," Smith said.

No new evacuations were issued Thursday morning largely because the 18,500-acre fire grew just 3,500 acres Wednesday -- the smallest growth amount for the blaze since it starting burning on June 23.

And with San Isabel National Forest Supervisor Jerri Marr echoing Smith's words about positive weather conditions expected for Thursday, crews were hopeful that evacuations and fire growth will continue to taper off.

"It's the first day in five or so days where we haven't had a Red Flag Warning," Marr said. "We've been standing out here and the wind has been hammering us. Today, we aren't going to have that. We think we're going to make some really significant headway."