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AP PHOTOS: Wildfires rage in Colorado and the West

(AP) – A raging wildfire roared through neighborhoods and forced 32,000 residents of Colorado Springs to flee their homes.

The 24-square mile fire scorched the edges of the U.S. Air Force Academy on Wednesday. Thick smoke and towering flames cloaked the full scope of damage to Colorado’s second-largest city.

President Barack Obama plans to tour the area on Friday.

A separate fire burning in northern Colorado has grown to 136-square miles and destroyed 257 homes.

Elsewhere in the West, wildfires in central Utah and Billings, Mont., have each destroyed dozens of homes and forced hundreds of evacuations. Another wildfire in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest has charred about 19 square miles as of Wednesday.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)