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Colorado Wildfires: The Aftermath

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Still burning near Colorado Springs, the Waldo Canyon fire is now the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, claiming 346 homes and two lives. Residents of affected neighborhoods, who were briefly allowed to return and survey the damage, described "unreal" scenes where houses that burned down to their foundations stood side-by-side with homes that appeared completely untouched. While the Waldo Canyon fire is now 55 percent contained, it is only one of dozens of fires still blazing across the west. [36 photos]

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Homes destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire, seen from the air in a neighborhood of Colorado Springs, Colorado, on June 30, 2012. The massive fire, which has eased with the help of cooler temperatures and lighter winds, has destroyed hundreds of homes and forced more than 35,000 people to flee. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Homes destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire, seen from the air in a neighborhood of Colorado Springs, Colorado, on June 30, 2012. The massive fire, which has eased with the help of cooler temperatures and lighter winds, has destroyed hundreds of homes and forced more than 35,000 people to flee. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A plume of smoke rises from the Waldo Canyon wildfire near Colorado Springs, on June 26, 2012. (Reuters/John Wark) #
Residents Lindsay Hetzel and Nathan Birdseye sit on a cliff overlooking the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs, on June 30, 2012. Crews battling a deadly Colorado wildfire ranked the most destructive in state history have made enough headway to allow most evacuees home, but concerns remain about rogue bears and burglaries in vacant houses, officials said. (Reuters/Adrees Latif) #
Plumes of smoke from the Waldo Canyon fire rises above trees in Colorado Springs, on June 30, 2012. (Reuters/Adrees Latif) #
Members of Bighorn 209, a hand crew from the Crow Agency in Montana check for hot spots on the Waldo Canyon Fire west of Colorado Springs, on June 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) #
A firefighting helicopter flies over homes while battling the Waldo Canyon wildfire west of Colorado Springs, on June 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) #
Plumes of smoke from the Waldo Canyon fire rise in front of a sunset in Colorado Springs, on July 1, 2012. The fire has scorched some 18,000 acres, burned 346 homes and devastated communities around Colorado Springs, the state's second-largest city, since it began eight days earlier. (Reuters/Adrees Latif) #
Smoke billows at sunrise from part of the Waldo Canyon fire on June 30, 2012 in Colorado Springs. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #
An ominous cloud of smoke from the Waldo Canyon fire rises from the south behind the Air Force Academy's Cadet Chapel as cadets head for a briefing on evacuation procedures in Colorado Springs, in this June 27, 2012 photograph. The Academy evacuated more than 600 families and 110 dormitory residents from the base the evening of June 27. (Reuters/Carol Lawrence/U.S. Air Force) #
Rich Harvey, the Incident Commander of the National Incident Management Team, places his hand over a map of the Waldo Canyon fire during a news conference in Colorado Springs, on July 1, 2012. (Reuters/Adrees Latif) #
A police roadblock in an evacuated neighborhood near the Waldo Canyon fire, on June 28, 2012 in Colorado Springs. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #
Smoke rises around Rampart Reservoir from the Waldo Canyon wildfire in this aerial photograph taken on June 27, 2012. (Reuters/John Wark) #
A scorched tree in a burned-out area near homes in the Cedar Heights neighborhood which was evacuated due to the Waldo Canyon fire on June 29, 2012. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #
Scorched hillsides and hundreds of damaged or destroyed homes from the Waldo Canyon fire, seen from the air (Pike's Peak in the background) above Colorado Springs, on June 28, 2012. (Reuters/Rick Wilking) #
Fire evacuees Jim and Lynn Becka react after learning their home was not one of the hundreds destroyed in the Waldo Canyon fire, on June 28, 2012 at a news conference in Colorado Springs. The couple, who had already lost one home due to financial hardship were relieved to learn they had not lost a second home. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images) #
Policemen stand guard near residents who were temporarily allowed to visit their homes destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs, on July 1, 2012. (Reuters/Adrees Latif) #
Homes destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs, on June 30, 2012. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #
A completely destroyed home, surrounded by several intact houses in the aftermath of the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs, on June 28, 2012. (Reuters/Rick Wilking) #
Dozens of homes in a Colorado Springs neighborhood, reduced to ashes in the aftermath of the Waldo Canyon fire, on June 28, 2012. (Reuters/Rick Wilking) #
Homes and cars destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire, seen from the air above Colorado Springs, on June 30, 2012. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #
The remains of a burned structure in the Mountain Shadow neighborhood, devastated by raging wildfires, on June 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) #
An aerial view of the Flying W Ranch, destroyed in the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs, on June 27, 2012. The Flying W Ranch was a working mountain cattle ranch and popular tourist attraction. The owners have committed to rebuilding. (Reuters/John Wark) #
A helicopter flies over part of the Waldo Canyon fire, in Colorado Springs on June 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Bryan Oller) #
Destroyed homes sit beside a home left untouched by fire in a neighborhood affected by the Waldo Canyon fire on June 30, 2012. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #
Some of the hundreds of destroyed homes in the aftermath of the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs, on June 28, 2012. (Reuters/Rick Wilking) #
Homes destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire, seen from the air above Colorado Springs, on June 30, 2012. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #
President Barack Obama talks with firefighters as he tours the Mountain Shadow neighborhood devastated by a wildfire in Colorado Springs, on June 29, 2012. After declaring a "major disaster" in the state early Friday and promising federal aid, President Obama got a firsthand view of the wildfires and their toll on residential communities. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) #
Two of the hundreds of destroyed homes, in the aftermath of the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs, on June 28, 2012. (Reuters/Rick Wilking) #
An aerial photo shows the aftermath of the Waldo Canyon fire at a neighborhood in Colorado Springs, on June 28, 2012. (Reuters/Rick Wilking) #
A partially destroyed house still smolders in Colorado Springs, on June 28, 2012. (Reuters/Rick Wilking) #
Destroyed homes sit beside homes left untouched by fire in a neighborhood affected by the Waldo Canyon fire on June 30, 2012. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #
Frank Baker visits the remains of his brother's home which was burned to the ground in the High Park Fire, June 30, 2012 in Bellvue, Colorado west of Fort Collins. The inferno burned more than 87,000 acres and left one person dead and destroyed 259 homes. The High Park Fire, which started June 9 from a lightning spark, is the second-largest and second-most destructive fire in Colorado state history. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images) #
One of the hundreds of totally destroyed homes in the Waldo Canyon fire, seen from the sky above Colorado Springs, on June 28, 2012. (Reuters/Rick Wilking) #
A church, which survived the Waldo Canyon Fire, is backdropped by a charred hillside in Colorado Springs, on June 30, 2012. (Reuters/Adrees Latif) #
Neighbors, who evacuated their homes from the encroaching Waldo Canyon fire, embrace after returning to their homes in Colorado Springs,on July 1, 2012. Residents began returning to charred areas of Colorado Springs on Sunday after the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and left the landscape a blackened wasteland. The neighbors wished to stay unidentified due to "jealous spouses," they said. (Reuters/Adrees Latif) #
A helicopter hovers over a hilltop after dropping water to combat the Waldo Canyon fire, on July 1, 2012. (Reuters/Adrees Latif) #

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