updated - May 18, 2013 Saturday EDT
By Zanub Saeed
President Barack Obama headed to Colorado on Friday to speak on behalf of the devastation the wildfires around the Waldo Canyon area have caused the state so far.
So far, 346 homes were destroyed as the Waldo Canyon fire burned down over 16,700 acres of land in Colorado, CNN reported on Friday, and the threat looms that another 20,000 homes are close enough to the fires to be affected by it. Obama brought words of hope and encouragement upon arrival.
"When natural disasters like this hit, America comes together," Obama told the press. "Some lessons are being learned about how we can mitigate some of these fires in the future. ... Hopefully, out of this tragedy, some long-term planning occurs, and it may be that we can curb some of the damage that happens the next time."
Obama declared Colorado a disaster area, said CNN, and that federal aid would be coming to fight the fire in Waldo Canyon and High Park, which lost 87,000 acres in Colorado since June 9.
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach was appreciative of the president's arrival, but noted that he was looking more forward to the reconstruction of the city once the fires had died down.
"I really appreciate the president coming here ... if nothing more than just to reassure us that this has a focus at a national level, that there are people all over this country who are concerned for our citizens and those who have lost their homes," Bach told CNN. "And I do plan to ask for cash."
Allstate recommended several ways Americans can reduce their risk of fires, they said in a press release on Friday. The company, along with the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety stated that homes should get rid of potential fuel sources, said the press release.
Among the recommendations included: pruning trees and shrubs; remove dead leaves and branches from a yard; clear branches from around the roof and chimney; clear roof, gutters, and eaves of debris; maintain irrigation systems; store flammable liquids properly; mow lawns regularly and dispose cuttings and debris properly; and trim taller trees of tall branches, listed the press release.
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