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A picture of wildfire smoke as it approaches the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado on June 25, 2012.

A picture of wildfire smoke as it approaches the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado on June 25, 2012. (US Air Force Academy)

A recreation area and surrounding trails were closed west of the U.S. Air Force Academy as a Colorado wildfire moved within view Monday.

The Waldo Canyon wildfire, just outside of Colorado Springs, approached 5,000 acres in size Monday night, causing forced evacuations in several suburban areas, according to an interagency website tracking the data.

No other evacuations were issued for the Air Force Academy, which issued “still no danger” notices on social media with accompanying pictures of massive smoke.

The academy also gave access to its airfield for wildfire fighting efforts.

In addition to the Farish Recreation Area being evacuated, the Eagle’s Peak, Stanley Canyon and Blodgett trails were closed by Col. Tim Gibson, commander of the 10th Air Base Wing. Portions of the Sante Fe and Ice Lake trails—all west of the academy—were also shut down.

Four Air Force C-130 aircraft were allocated Monday to help fight the Waldo Canyon blaze, with each able to drop a payload of 2,600 gallons of retardant. The aircraft may also be used to help combat the much bigger High Park Five fire near Fort Collins, according to Air Force officials. That wildfire has burned over 83,000 acres as of Monday night and was responsible for destroying hundreds of homes.

The new class of cadets is still set to arrive as scheduled on June 28, according to the academy.

--Toshio Suzuki, @ToshJohn


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