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Obama surveys Colorado wildfire damage

June 29, 2012 at 4:14 PM   |   Comments

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COLORADO SPRINGS, June 29 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama toured the wildfire-ravaged Mountain Shadow neighborhood in Colorado Springs Friday and praised firefighters.

Obama thanked first responders to the Waldo Canyon fire, calling them "genuine heroes."

"I tell ya what, those families, you made a difference in their lives," Obama told firefighters as he surveyed the damage in the Mountain Shadow neighborhood.

"You have a house that's cinders. Next to it, it's untouched. …

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families that are affected," he said.

Obama declared a major disaster in Colorado and offered federal assistance, The Denver Post reported.

"We need a little bit of help from mother nature," he said.

Responders to the Waldo Canyon fire made "really good progress overnight," incident commander Rich Harvey said Friday.

Human remains were found and 436 homes have been destroyed in the wildfire that moved into western neighborhoods of Colorado Springs, the Post reported.

Harvey said firefighters are "putting muscle on the ground in front of this fire," and city officials announced a disaster recovery center will open Saturday for evacuees and those who have lost their homes.

Colorado Springs Fire Chief Pete Carey said human remains were found in the rubble from a burned home.

An estimated 32,500 people were evacuated in and around Colorado Springs.

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