(Photo : Reuters)
As of Wednesday, fire crews in Colorado have successfully contained the Black Forest wildfire at 85 percent and will continue to work in hot spots with a goal of total containment by Thursday.
The Black Forest Fire is now officially considered the worst in Colorado history. The cost of fighting the fire is currently at $8.5 million. An assessment by local officials has put the number of homes lost at 509. Two people have died, according to DenverPost.com.
Prior to the fire, the worst recorded wildfire in Colorado history was last year's Waldo Canyon fire, which burned 347 homes, also killed two people, and led to $353 million in insurance claims, according to a report from WJLA.com.
"I never in my wildest dreams imagined we'd be dealing a year later with very similar circumstances," said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. "Maybe we just had 20 to 30 years of luck."
So far the fire has burned through 14,280 acres of land. Forecasts for Wednesday show dry, hot weather expected in the area, which should test firefighters' ability to contain the blaze.
"We look forward to the test because we've been preparing for it all week," said Incident Commander Rich Harvey. "This is a time when the fire has a chance to get active, we are prepared for it. And in a certain aspect, we welcome it because it will show us that last remaining heat and we can get this thing done quicker. Today as it warms up, we're prepared, we're vigilant and we'll do our best to knock it out."
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is working with residents to slowly let additional evacuees back into the impact zone to survey their homes and land. According to Maketa, there are still 937 homes and 9,830 acres of land under mandatory evacuation orders, with 2,600 people remaining out of their homes.
Fire damage hasn't been the only concern during the Colorado wildfires; seven burglaries are also under investigation in the evacuation zone. The Gazette reports that the people found guilty for these crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
"The fact that people will go in and victimize those displaced by the fire, I think it's low," Maketa said. "It's disgusting and if you are one of those people, you're a sad individual."