Colorado wildfires: 2 deaths reported, disaster declared


A local resident watches smoke from the Waldo Canyon fire, June 28, 2012 near the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Robyn Beck

At least two people have died in the wildfires ravaging Colorado.

President Barack Obama declared a disaster in the state today.

Police said they found two bodies in the remains of a burned-out house in Colorado Springs, Reuters reported.

The victims have not been publicly identified. After discovering the first body early on Friday, officers found a second person, who was reported missing from the same address.

According to Reuters, six people have died during this season's wildfires, what some call the most destructive ever.

More from GlobalPost: Nearly 350 homes destroyed by Waldo Canyon fire

Another 10 people have been unaccounted for since the fires reached the city on Tuesday, the Denver Post said – though some of them are thought to have simply neglected to register with authorities as evacuees.

Some 35,000 people have been told to leave their houses as firefighters struggle to contain the blaze. Some will be allowed to return home from Friday morning, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

A total of 346 properties have so far been destroyed by the Waldo Canyon wildfire, Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said yesterday, making it the most destructive in the state's history.

More from GlobalPost: Obama to tour wildfire damage 

More than half of all active US federal firefighting resources have been deployed to Colorado, according to a White House statement.

By yesterday evening the Waldo Canyon fire was only 15 percent contained, Reuters said, despite a day of cooler temperatures and even some rain.

President Obama issued a disaster declaration for Colorado, which according to the Associated Press will allow federal funds to be used for recovery efforts.

After touring a neighborhood devastated by the wildfires, Obama visited a firehouse in Colorado Springs on Friday, Politico reported.

He said, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families who’ve been affected."

Praising the firefighters, Obama said, "We can provide all the resources, we can make sure that they're well-coordinated, but as I just told these firefighters, what we can't do is to provide them with the courage and the determination and the professionalism -- the heart -- they show when they fight these fires," according to Politico.

A relief fund has been established for the victims of the wildfires and has already collected more than $600,000, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced yesterday. You can donate by texting FIRE to 80000.

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