AP PHOTOS: Wildfires rage in the West

Associated Press
This aerial photo shows the destructive path of the Waldo Canyon fire in the Mountain Shadows subdivision area of Colorado Springs, Colo., Thursday, June 28, 2012. Colorado Springs officials  said Thursday that hundreds of homes have been destroyed by the raging wildfire. (AP Photo/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti)
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From above, the destruction wrought by a raging Colorado wildfire becomes painfully clear: Rows and rows of homes — hundreds in all — reduced to smoldering ashes. Amid the devastation, there are hopeful signs: More than 120 soldiers using heavy equipment helped stop flames from advancing on the U.S. Air Force Academy and cooler weather could help slow the fire's spread.

The cause of the blaze remains unknown and local authorities said Thursday that conditions are too dangerous for any such investigation to begin.

The wildfire was one of many burning across the parched West, blazes that have destroyed structures and prompted evacuations in Montana and Utah and forced the closure of a portion of Zion National Park.

President Barack Obama is to tour fire-stricken areas today after issuing a disaster declaration for Colorado, releasing federal funds to help.

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Here is a gallery of photos from the wildfires.

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