UPDATE: Nearly 350 homes destroyed by Waldo Canyon fire (VIDEO)


A military helicopter with a water bucket participating in fire containment flies over part of the Waldo Canyon fire on June 28, 2012 in Colorado Springs, Colo. The massive fire, which eased slightly with the help of cooler temperatures and lighter winds, has destroyed hundreds of homes and forced more than 30,000 people to flee.


Spencer Platt

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed by an out-of-control wildfire that's forced more than 30,000 people from their homes and is threatening the US Air Force Academy in southern Colorado.

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said 346 homes had been destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire, according to preliminary damage reoprts.

That makes it the state's most destructive on record, Reuters reported.

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"There was nothing left in some areas -- burned out foundations that were smoldering. It looked like a nuclear weapon had been dropped. It's as close to hell as I could imagine," Bach told MSNBC after touring the heavily damaged Mountain Shadows subdivision.

At least 10 people are missing and unaccounted for, Denver TV station KDVR reported.

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“This is going to be a tough evening, but were going to get through it,” Bach told the TV station. “This is a very difficult time.”

Until now, the Waldo Canyon fire has been burning too fiercely for authorities to get any damage estimates.

Officials said it's still too dangerous to begin investigating the cause of the blaze, which has scorched an estimated 18,500 acres, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

A meeting was planned Thursday night to inform residents of the fate of their homes.

Ted Stefani and his wife, Kate, already know that their home burned to the ground, recognizing it in a photo that appeared on the front page of the Denver Post.

"It's a good and bad thing," he told the Post. "It's bad, because our house is gone. But at least we know."

The wildfire was one of many burning across the West, blazes that have destroyed structures and prompted evacuations in Montana and Utah and forced the closure of a portion of Zion National Park, according to The Associated Press.