2 confirmed dead as Black Forest fire continues to grow

DENVER, June 13 (UPI) -- Two people were confirmed dead as the evacuation zone of the Black Forest fire near Colorado Springs was expanded Thursday, officials said.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said Colorado's most destructive fire in history has destroyed at least 360 homes and has consumed nearly 16,000 acres, The Denver Post reported.


Mandatory evacuations were expanded for thousands more residents in Colorado Springs, causing major backups on area roadways.

The bodies of two adults who apparently were in the process of packing their car were found together inside a garage, Maketa said.

"We were truly hoping we could get from day to day without news like this," he said. "It certainly was tragic news we were hoping we could avoid."

El Paso County sheriff's deputies earlier cited "dynamic changing conditions" for enlarging the zone in which residents are being encouraged to leave, the Post said.

The new evacuation area includes part of Elbert County near the original evacuation zone in El Paso County.

The weather service has issued a "red flag "warning for the combined area, citing forecasts of gusty winds, low humidity and easily combustible dry vegetation. Winds are expected to gust as high as 35 mph by Thursday afternoon, with a 10 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms.


The warning includes all of southern Colorado.

Many evacuees have packed the parking lot of a Walmart near Black Forest while others lined up at a roadblock at dawn, hoping to get escorts to their homes in the evacuation area.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed orders Wednesday declaring emergency orders for the Black Forest fire, the Royal Gorge fire in Fremont County and the Klickus fire in Huerfano County, his office said. The orders authorize the release of more than $10 million from the state's Disaster Emergency Fund, most of it for the Black Forest and Royal Gorge fires.

KWGN, Denver, reported Thursday 360 homes had been destroyed by the fire, with 14 more partially damaged.

Nearly 10,000 people had been forced to flee.

In Fremont County in central Colorado, the Royal Gorge fire forced the evacuation of about 190 homes and the medium-security Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility.

Three homes near La Veta in south-central Huerfano County have been ordered evacuated because of the Klickus fire.

Latest Headlines