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Waldo Canyon Wildfires: At the Mouth of Hell

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Since the embers in the latest round of Colorado wildfires exploded into a blaze on Tuesday, the flames have destroyed more than 18,500 acres and sent 36,000 fleeing from their homes.

The true nature of the Waldo Canyon fire is only understandable through pictures. The vague notion of a fire burning idly in some uninhabited area is quickly dissolved when these photos emerge -- photos of homes, entire neighborhoods, against a backdrop of angry, orange flames.

The fire has threatened such landmarks as Pikes Peak and the Air Force Academy, and terrorized Colorado Springs, the state's second-largest city with 400,000 residents. On Friday, the flames turned deadly when one person was found dead inside a burned-out house and another is missing.

President Barack Obama is touring the Colorado Springs area Friday, and has declared the state a disaster area. The Mayor of Colorado Springs, Steve Bach, plans to ask Obama for financial help in dealing with the aftermath.

Although tens of thousands of Colorado citizens have been ordered to evacuate, calmer winds have helped firefighters contain the blaze. As of Friday, the containment level was about 15%. It may not seem like much, after days of destruction, it is welcome progress. However, for those with no choice but to watch their homes, their possessions, and all they know go up in smoke, the end is far from near.

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