Tuesday afternoon, Colorado Springs Fire Department Capt. Mike Wittry waited for his assignment with his wife by his side, at Coronado High School, the staging area to fight the wildfire blazing through Waldo Canyon. They had been evacuated from their home on the other side of the mountain, in the Mountain Shadows subdivision. They sat alone and listened to the scanner. A panicked update crackled over the radio: “Mountain Shadows is burning.”
He took his wife’s hand, looked into her eyes and said, “We’ve got each other.”
And then Wittry, 55, went to work. A 30-year veteran, he joined the hundreds of firefighters who battled the most destructive wildfire in state history, which destroyed 347 homes and at its peak, forced the evacuation,of 32,000 people. The number has shrunk to 10,000. Two bodies were found in the ruins of one house. No firefighters have been killed in the 26-square-mile blaze, but it forced them to see things they never had before.
By Saturday afternoon, authorities had increased the Waldo Canyon Fire’s containment to 45 percent, but they worried about continued dry conditions, high temperatures and possible thunderstorms. The National Guard committed more than 150 soldiers to help Colorado Springs police return to normal work. President Obama came here Friday and hailed the firefighters as heroes.
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