More than 11,000 Colorado residents—and tourists—have been ordered to evacuate as eight wildfires burn across the state, destroying homes and threatening popular sightseeing spots. Vacation cabins in Estes Park have already been destroyed and the main entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park has been closed. Smoke threatens the massive 102-year-old Stanley Hotel, inspiration for Stephen King's The Shining. Flames from the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs were as high as 100 feet and moving up to a mile per hour, firefighters reported. The blaze has consumed some 2,500 acres. Nearly 250 homes and 130 square miles have been destroyed near Fort Collins in the High Park Fire, the state's second-largest and one of its costliest to fight, reports AP.
"It's just shocking. It's really scary to see the smoke this close to home," said a resident who has lived in Manitou Springs for 20 years and had never before been evacuated. Hundreds of firefighters are fighting the blazes. The battle is expected to be massive at least until midweek due to hot, dry conditions and soaring temperatures. The fire season so far is the worst in a decade, said officials. "We just have to hope Mother Nature gives us a break," one firefighter told the Denver Post. At least 19 major wildfires are burning across the western US in Utah, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Montana and other states, reports the New York Times. (Read more Fort Collins stories.)