COLORADO SPRINGS – The violent Waldo Canyon wildfire has reportedly killed at least one person, fire officials announced Friday morning. Later this afternoon, President Barack Obama is expected for a visit to analyze the destruction and thank firefighters and others who have responded to the blaze since being reported Saturday.
Most destructive in state history, the wildfire has burned at least 346 homes and forced more than 32,000 residents from their homes, according to officials Thursday.
Scheduled to arrive around noon local time, Obama is expected to bring relief to the state while firefighters are also relieved as Incident Commander Rich Harvey reported no additional structures were lost Thursday, and it is now 15 percent contained.
“I really appreciate the president coming here…if nothing more than just to reassure us that this has a focus at a national level, that there are people all over this country who are concerned for our citizens and those who have lost their homes,” Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said, according to CNN. “And I do plan to ask for cash.”
The president declared Colorado a disaster area and agreed to allow giving federal dollars to help fight the Waldo Canyon Fire and the High Park Fire, which is burning more than 87,000 acres in northern Colorado since June 9.
However, there are some disputes among Colorado residents about Obama’s visit this afternoon.
“I don’t see why he’s getting in (to the areas) before homeowners do,” Colorado Springs resident Dan Roda said in an interview with the Denver Post.
However, for Ute Risenberg, a resident of Larkspur, she views it as a complicated affair.
“I think it’s good, but I think a lot of people are going to twist and turn this. Like, if he wouldn’t come they would say, ‘he doesn’t give a damn,'” Risenberg told the Denver Poster. “By coming, they’ll say he’s taking away resources.”