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Wildfire threatens Colorado Springs, prompts evacuation of 11,000 residents

Bryan Oller / AP

Smoke billows from a wildfire burning near Colorado Springs, Colo., June 24.

The fire erupted and grew out of control to more than 3 square miles early Sunday, prompting the evacuation of more than 11,000 residents and an unknown number of tourists. On Saturday, a blaze destroyed 21 structures near the mountain community of Estes Park.

"We're used to flooding and tornadoes, nothing like this," said Amanda Rice of Rock Falls, Ill., who evacuated a Manitou Springs hotel late Saturday with her husband, four children and dog. Some travelers were awoken with evacuation orders. Rice, scared when she saw flames, took her family to the evacuation center before she was told to go.

"It was just this god-awful orange glow. It was surreal. It honestly looked like hell was opening up," Rice said Sunday.

-- Reported by the Associated Press

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More than 11,000 residents in Colorado were ordered to evacuate their homes as more than 700 firefighters fought flames. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.