A secret service agent looks over the burnt homes in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood damaged by the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, Colo., Friday, June 29, 2012. After declaring a "major disaster" in the state early Friday and promising federal aid, President Barack Obama got a firsthand view of the wildfires and their toll on residential communities. More than 30,000 people have been evacuated in what is now the most destructive wildfire in state history. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Joe Amon) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET OUT
President Barack Obama visits with firefighters at the Mountain Shadows neighborhood damaged by the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, Colo., Friday, June 29, 2012. After declaring a "major disaster" in the state early Friday and promising federal aid, Obama got a firsthand view of the wildfires and their toll on residential communities. More than 30,000 people have been evacuated in what is now the most destructive wildfire in state history. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Joe Amon) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET OUT
In this photo provided by the NHRA, John Force launches from the starting line Friday night June 29, 2012 at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill., en route to the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot in Funny Car. Force, the winningest driver in NHRA drag racing history, has been the No. 1 qualifier 139 times in his hall of fame career. (AP Photo/Teresa Long, NHRA)
This image provided by NASA taken by an Expedition 31 crew member Wednesday June 27, 2012 aboard the International Space Station, flying approximately 240 miles above Earth, recorded a series of images of the current wild fires in the southwestern United States. These particular fires, of unknown cause, are burning at the south end of the Wyoming Range in southwestern Wyoming, and have affected 17,000 acres. The fires have produced two major smoke plumes (center) that dominate the image. The fires are occurring 120 miles due south of Yellowstone Lake which appears as an irregular blue shape (upper right --if the image is oriented with north toward the top right corner). Utah's Great Salt Lake (image far left) is about 120 miles away. Winds transport the smoke in a northeasterly direction: the plumes can be seen to cross the Wind River Range (center), blowing directly toward the Big Horn Mts., which appear as a dark, curved feature (lower right). This 180mm image spans a wide area from northern Utah (left) to northeastern Montana (right). (AP Photo/NASA)
This June 27, 2012 photo shows Simone Covey, center, a 26-year-old single mother of three, sitting on a cot with her children and nephew at a Red Cross shelter in Colorado Springs, Colo., where they are staying after the Waldo Canyon Fire forced them from their home. Covey doesn't know if the apartment was damaged by the fire, which has destroyed hundreds of homes and has so far forced mandatory evacuations for more than 32,000 residents. Pictured from left to right are Emma Covey, 6; Covey's nephew, Zack Miller, 5; Simone Covey; Logan Thompson-Covey, 2 and Nyomie Covey, 5. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)
The Mountain Shadows neighborhood is left damaged by the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, Colo., Friday, June 29, 2012. After declaring a "major disaster" in the state early Friday and promising federal aid, President Barack Obama got a firsthand view of the wildfires and their toll on residential communities. More than 30,000 people have been evacuated in what is now the most destructive wildfire in state history. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Joe Amon) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET OUT
Roslyn Ruppert looks through the remains of her neighbors' burned homes after she and other residents were let back into their properties on Rist Canyon Road on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in Colorado. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Aaron Ontiveroz) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET OUT
President Barack Obama talks with firefighters as he tours the Mountain Shadow neighborhood devastated by wildfires, Friday, June 29, 2012, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Firefighters from Colorado Springs Fire Dept. refuel after coming off the fire line on the the Waldo Canyon wildfire west of Colorado Springs, Colo., Friday, June 29, 2012. One person has been found dead, another is missing and nearly 350 homes have been destroyed by a raging U.S. wildfire that has forced tens of thousands to flee this week. President Barack Obama on Friday will tour the scene of the most destructive fire in Colorado history. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Making steady progress Saturday against the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, crews kept a wary eye on weather that was getting warmer and drier as National guard troops were deployed to help local police get things back to normal.
“The weather is making progress in a bad direction. Hotter, drier, with a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Winds will shift from one direction to another,” said Incident Commander Rich Harvey.
The 26-square-mile Waldo Canyon fire was 30 percent contained. It was one of many burning across the West, including eight in Utah and a fast-growing blaze in Montana that forced residents in several small communities to leave.
More than 1,200 personnel and six helicopters were fighting the Waldo Canyon fire, and authorities said they were confident they’d built good fire lines in many areas to stop flames from spreading.
“Today is going to be our test day,” said Jerri Marr, supervisor of the Pike and San Isabella national forests. “Today we’re going to see how all the things that we’ve done hold.”
Two bodies were found in the ruins of one house, one of almost 350 destroyed in this city
60 miles south of Denver. The victims’ names haven’t been released. Police say fewer than 10 people may be unaccounted for.
“There are another couple of people we still have some pretty serious concerns about,” Police Chief Pete Carey said.
More than 150 National Guard soldiers and airmen helped Colorado Springs police staff roadblocks and patrol streets. Carey said Saturday the presence of military personnel will allow his department to resume normal police work in the rest of the city.
About 10,000 people remain evacuated, down from more than 30,000 at the fire’s peak.
The mood was light as evacuees filtered back into an unscathed neighborhood of winding streets and split-level homes within an easy walk of the burned area.
High school counselor Pat Allen and her husband, Vic Miller, were all smiles less than five minutes after returning to their tri-level home on a quiet cul-de-sac.
“I’m just wanting to kiss the house, dance with the neighbors,” Allen said.
Their house didn’t smell of smoke. Their electricity was out for two or three days but the popsicles in their freezer didn’t melt, she said.
Around the corner, retiree Nina Apsey wandered in search of eight small, solar-powered lights that somebody had taken from her yard during the evacuation.
“I’m assuming it was vandalism,” she said.
Prized possessions still piled into the Hyundai sport-utility vehicle in her garage included caribou antlers and antelope and deer head mounts. As flames bore down, she’d also taken a small ceramic cowboy statue. Her late husband taught her how to hunt. He resembled the cowboy, she said.
She wasn’t too perturbed about her missing lights because nothing else was touched.
“If that’s the worst that happened to me, I’m blessed,” she said.
On Sunday people whose homes were burned will be allowed to take bus tours of the affected area.
After exploding earlier in the week, the Colorado Springs fire gained no ground in the last several days. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire that broke out on June 23. Dangerous conditions had kept them from beginning their inquiry.
Among the fires elsewhere in the West:
• Utah: Residents were sifting through the ashes of more than 50 houses destroyed by a central Utah wildfire. Wood Hollow fire spokeswoman Dorothy Harvey says the homeowners were allowed to return Saturday to Indianola along Utah’s scenic Route 89. In all, eight wildfires are burning across Utah. The latest to break out Friday destroyed or damaged six houses in the foothills southwest of Salt Lake City.
• Montana: Authorities in eastern Montana ordered the evacuation of several communities Saturday as the Ash Creek Complex fires consumed another 72 square miles, swelling to 244 square miles overnight. One home was destroyed. Elsewhere, firefighters worked to bolster fire lines on at least five other large fires in the state.
• Idaho: A fast-moving 1,000-acre wildfire in eastern Idaho that destroyed 66 homes and 29 outbuildings was expected to be contained Saturday. Slightly calmer weather helped in the effort to halt the human-caused Charlotte fire that started Thursday afternoon. Some 1,000 residents were evacuated; it was unclear when they would be allowed back.
— Colorado: The last evacuees from the High Park Fire in northern Colorado have been allowed to return home as crews get closer to full containment. The 136-square-mile fire killed one resident and destroyed 259 houses, a state record until the fire near Colorado Springs destroyed 346 homes. In western Colorado, the 18-square-mile Pine Ridge Fire is 10 percent contained.
Associated Press writers Paul Foy in Salt Lake City, Keith Ridler in Boise, Idaho, and Dan Elliott in Denver contributed to this report.