Nightly News   |  June 12, 2013

Massive wildfires churn through Colorado

Entire neighborhoods have been devoured by the flames that now threaten 2500 properties, driven by strong winds and dry brush. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>>> returning to the west, a major battle against a series of destructive wildfires in colorado. that spread quickly and forced the evacuation of thousands of people. miguel almaguer in colorado springs for us tonight. good evening.

>> reporter: lester, good evening. the black forest fire can be seen burning from 45 miles an hour, and ash is falling in parts of denver tonight. this fire shoe e chewed across 8,000 acres, a fire that simply won't blow down. devouring entire neighborhoods, million dollar homes, it exploded in bone dry conditions, jumping from home to home, up to 100 destroyed.

>> get out!

>> reporter: tonight, 2,500 properties threatened, 7,000 people forced to flee the flames.

>> you work your whole life to have your own little place on the world, find someplace special to you, and then it's gone.

>> reporter: fueled by whipping winds and dry brush , a " denver post " photographer captured these images overnight as fire steam rolled through 48 square miles . the blaze burned through the night, engulfing homes, and 900 inmates evacuated from a prison as flames closed in. authorities worried no everyone heeded the order to leave.

>> one of my worst fears is that people took their chances and it may have cost them their life.

>> reporter: today, ground crews beat back flames where they could, what seemed like an endless fight. conditions on the front line have been anything but ideal in some areas, visibility reduced to near zero. and temperatures are soaring into the 90s. from the air, a military response. national guard helicopters and air force c-130s called in to coordinate a steady attack, across colorado, four major wildfires burn. one threatened the iconic royal gorge suspension bridge , for now still stands the burning canyons.

>> our challenges are really boiled down to this. very dry, dry conditions out here.

>> reporter: tonight, the threat is far from over. as neighbors pick up the pieces to their lives, looking for what they've lost and what has been left behind. stubborn wind are a problem, they can hamper firefighters, not just by flanning flames tree top to tree top. the next 24 hours on the ground will be critical.