Strong to dangerous winds and extremely low daytime relative humidity helped create extreme fire conditions in southern Colorado.
Smoke from several major wildfires on Thursday ringed Colorado Springs, Colorado's second-largest city, torching eight homes, closing the city's airport and causing thousands of evacuations, as dry conditions and heavy winds spread the blazes quickly throughout the area.
As night fell on Colorado Springs, located 112.6 km south of the state capital Denver, dozens of fire crews from across the region responded to the grass fires and were "gaining the upper hand," according to Denver CBS4 News.
One fire engulfed eight homes in the Skylark Mobile Home Park, where 500 homes were emptied and 1,000 residents were evacuated to a nearby fitness center. Fifty firefighters responded to the blaze that saw several propane tanks venting flames 15 meters in the air.
Meanwhile, a fire east of town consumed another 0.4 square km, forcing 50 residents to evacuate and prompting Colorado Springs Airport to issue a shelter-in-place order for about an hour, according to Colorado Springs Fire Department Fire Marshall Brett Lacey.
About 100 firefighters, 28 deputies and 63 police officers assisted with battling the fires and evacuations. Lacey told reporters that no structures were lost or damaged, and no injuries were reported.
Strong to dangerous winds and extremely low daytime relative humidity helped create extreme fire conditions in southern Colorado. Another fire broke out shortly before noon in southeast Colorado Springs, sparked by the catalytic converter of a sheriff deputy's car.
The same day, a fourth wildfire was reported west of the city in Teller County, south of the popular tourist attraction Pikes Peak, resulting in forced evacuations.