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July 2, 2012

Wildfires in western US

The western United States continues to battle a ferocious wildfire season that has seen record-breaking fires in several states. The worst of the blazes is the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado, blamed for two deaths, for forcing 35,000 residents to evacuate, and for the destruction of at lest 346 homes. The area around Colorado Springs has been declared a federal disaster area after the most destructive fire in state history. Wildfires have also destroyed property and forced evacuations in California, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and New Mexico. [Editors' note: There will be no Big Picture on the Wednesday, July 4 holiday.] -- Lane Turner (38 photos total)

The Waldo Canyon fire burns an entire neighborhood near the foothills of Colorado Springs, Colo. on June 26, 2012. Colorado endured nearly a week of 100-plus-degree days and low humidity, sapping moisture from timber and grass, creating a devastating formula for volatile wildfires across the state and punishing conditions for firefighters. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Associated Press)

A small kitten is injured after a blaze fueled by strong winds swept through a neighborhood in Mountain Home, Idaho on June 19, 2012. (Chris Butler/The Idaho Statesman/Associated Press) #

Todd Clites, of the PatRick fire crew in Boise, douses his head with water at the High Park Fire Incident Command Post at the National Guard Armory in Fort Collins, Colo. on June 19, 2012. (Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Associated Press) #

An area lies scorched by wildfire near Mt. Pleasant, Utah on June 25, 2012. (Scott G. Winterton/The Deseret News/Associated Press) #

A helicopter drops water on the Waldo Canyon fire burning behind the U.S. Air Force Academy west of Colorado Springs on June 27, 2012. The fire doubled in size overnight. (Rick Wilking/Reuters) #

Helena, Mont. residents move their horses on June 26, 2012 after evacuations were ordered. The nervous horses had to be pushed often to keep them going. (Eliza Wiley/Independent Record/Associated Press) #

A deer jumps through a fence along U.S. Highway 24 near Manitou Springs, Colo., as a wildfire burns near Cascade, Colo. on June 24, 2012. The fire prompted the evacuation of more than 11,000 residents and an unknown number of tourists. (Christian Murdock/The Colorado Springs Gazette/Associated Press) #

Tammy Lance of Payson, Utah cries on June 25, 2012 after finding kittens alive under a burned-out truck. (Lynn DeBruin/Associated Press) #

Smoke from the High Park Fire fills the sky near Laporte, Colo. on June 10, 2012. (Marc Piscotty/Reuters) #

An official speaks with Brittany Harrington at a road closure near her home west of Fort Collins, Colo. on June 10, 2012. (Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Assoicated Press) #

People watch as a wildfire continues to burn west of Colorado Springs on June 24, 2012. (Susannah Kay/The Colorado Springs Gazette/Associated Press) #

A wildfire burns between Lake Isabella and Wofford Heights, Calif. on June 19, 2012. (Casey Christie/The Bakersfield Californian/Associated Press) #

Fire crews battle a blaze near homes in an evacuation area on June 11, 2012 near Fort Collins, Colo. The fire grew to more than 31 square miles within about a day after being reported, and smoke has drifted as far away as central Nebraska, western Kansas and Texas. (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/Associated Press) #

Tracy Greenwood embraces her daughter Mariah Greenwood as they watch the High Park wildfire burn near their home west of Fort Collins, Colo. on June 11, 2012. (Ed Andrieski/Associated Press) #

High Park fire evacuee Simone Foster, who lives in Spring Canyon, Colo., leaves a community meeting at in Loveland, Colo. on June 12, 2012. (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/Associated Press) #

Tracy Cookman (right) and Lynnie Long ride horses through Brewster Ranch outside of Bellvue after it was burned by the High Park Fire at on June 13, 2012. The fire burned more than 40,000 acres encompassing more than 65 square miles. (Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Associated Press) #

A large area of forest lies burned in the Gila National Forest on June 15, 2012. The Whitewater-Baldy fire, a blaze that has charred more than 453 square miles of the forest and its famed Gila Wilderness, is the largest in the state's history. (KC Shedden/U.S. Forest Service/Associated Press) #

A fire crew works the Little Bear Fire in the Lincoln National Forest near Ruidoso, New Mexico on June 14, 2012. (Kari Greer/US Forest Service/Handout/Reuters) #

Officials and veterinarians work together to roll a tranquilized moose onto a stretcher in west Fort Collins, Colo. The moose, fleeing a wildfire, swam across Horsetooth Reservoir. (Dawn Madura/The Coloradoan/Associated Press) #

A firefighter works at a home being consumed by flames in Estes Park, Colo. on June 23, 2012. (Darrell Spangler/Associated Press) #

Waldo Canyon Fire evacuees Tim and Amanda Hughes play games in the gymnasium at Cheyenne Mountain High School evacuation center in Colorado Springs on June 25, 2012. (Bryan Oller/Associated Press) #

Helicopters battle the Wood Hollow Fire north of Fairview, Utah on June 26, 2012. (George Frey/Reuters) #

Smoke from the Waldo Canyon fire engulfs the I-25 north of Colorado Springs on June 26, 2012. (Rick Wilking/Reuters) #

Volunteers and firefighters from the Dean Creek Fire Department work to save a home south of Roundup, Mont. on June 26, 2012. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette/Associated Press) #

People head south on Highway 87 away from the 18,700-acre Dahl fire burning south of Roundup, Mont. Hundreds of families were forced from their homes, and at least 60 homes burned. (Carmen Daye Irish/Billings Gazette/Associated Press) #

Tayor Salamon, 11, holds his dog in the back seat of the car as his family rushes to leave their home in Colorado Springs on June 26, 2012. (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/Associated Press) #

The Fontenelle Fire burns in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. (U.S. Forest Service/Associated Press) #

A member of the Rock Creek Rural Fire Protection District watches as a plane drops retardant on a fire south of Kimberly, Idaho on June 26, 2012. (Ashley Smith/Times-News/Associated Press) #

Deer sit in the backyard of a deserted Holland Park home after the area was evacuated as the Waldo Canyon Fire continued to burn on June 27, 2012 in Colorado Springs. (Christian Murdock/The Gazette/Associated Press) #

A helicopter picks up 2,600 gallons of water from an irrigation pond on June 27, 2012 to help fight the Wood Hollow Fire in central Utah. (Lynn DeBruin/Associated Press) #

Karen Jones hands out homemade cookies to firefighters in Boulder on June 27, 2012. (Jeremy Papasso/The Daily Camera/Associated Press) #

A member of the Rock Creek Rural Fire Protection District fights a fire near the Hidden Lakes subdivision on June 27, 2012 in Twin Falls, Idaho. (Ashley Smith/Times-News/Associated Press) #

A member of the Bighorn Initial Attack crew of the Crow reservation in Montana checks for hotspots in the aftermath of the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs on June 29, 2012. (Rick Wilking/Reuters) #

Destroyed homes sit beside a home left untouched by fire in a neighborhood burned by the Waldo Canyon fire on June 30, 2012 in Colorado Springs. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #

Smoke billows at sunrise from part of the Waldo Canyon fire on June 30, 2012 in Colorado Springs. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) #

Immanuel Mgana holds his daughter Grace Mgana, 2, as he surveys what is left of their home on July 1, 2012 in the Mountain Shadows subdivision of Colorado Springs. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Associated Press)#

Lauretta Anzalone, 80, and Cortney Lee, her great niece, hold a kettle found in the ashes of her home on July 1, 2012 in the Mountain Shadows subdivision of Colorado Springs. (Heather Rousseau/The Denver Post/Associated Press)#

Local residents Lindsay Hetzel and Nathan Birdseye sit on a cliff overlooking the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs on June 30, 2012. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)#