Saturday, June 30th, 2012 at 9:39am

Obama tours carnage of deadly US wildfire

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One person has been found dead and nearly 350 homes have been destroyed by a raging US wildfire that has forced tens of thousands to flee this week.

Lighter winds have helped firefighters gain new ground against the Waldo Canyon inferno, the worst in the history of the US state of Colorado.

“We had a pretty good day on the line today,” said Rich Harvey, the state official in charge of managing the fire, according to the Reuters news agency. “There was minimal fire growth.”

But the damage is already extensive: Aerial photos showed large swaths of neighbourhoods reduced to ash in Colorado Springs and surrounding areas. The city is home to the US Olympic Training Centre and the Air Force Space Command, which operates military satellites.

Barack Obama, the US president, arrived in the state on Friday to tour the scene along with state officials.

Little is known about the identity of the victim, the fifth person killed this year by wildfires in Colorado. Police officials also said that at least one person is missing.

The tally of homes destroyed by the fire ranks as the most on record, surpassing the 257 homes burned in a much larger fire north of Denver earlier this year.

More than 30,000 people have fled their homes, though a limited number of evacuees were allowed to return on Thursday night. The cost of fighting the fire has already surpassed $3m.

Searing temperatures and strong, erratic winds earlier this week stoked the blaze, which has swallowed more than 18,500 acres of timber and brush, much of it in the Pike National Forecast.

The Colorado fire is one of more than 40 large wildfires burning across the western United States.


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