COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Even as ribbons of smoke from Colorado’s raging wildfires rose in the foothills around them, 1,045 fresh cadets arrived Thursday at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to begin their basic training.
When the Waldo Canyon fire exploded Tuesday night, flames jumped perimeters and charred about 10 acres of the storied installation. More than 2,100 families were quickly evacuated from residential areas of the academy and, as of Thursday, still had not been allowed to return.
More than 32,000 people from Colorado Springs and its environs have been forced from their homes because of the fire, and authorities are still tallying the damage. “We now know hundreds of homes have been destroyed,” Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said at a Thursday morning news conference.
John Van Winkle, a spokesman for the Air Force Academy, said the ceremony welcoming new recruits went on as scheduled to help hold onto some sense of normalcy.