502 homes destroyed in Black Forest Fire; more evacuees return home

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BLACK FOREST, Colo. — Officials announced Monday night the The Black Forest Fire destroyed 502 homes and damaged 18 others. The fire was 75 percent contained.

Some of the heaviest firefighting equipment is leaving the site of the fire, and even more evacuation orders were lifted along Shoup Road in Colorado Springs Monday night, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said.

Maketa reminded residents many of them were not going home, they were going to see rubble.

The fire did not grow Sunday night, and no additional structures were destroyed. The good news followed an especially productive weekend during which almost 1,500 evacuated households were allowed to go home.

Even so, the situation is far from resolved, officials said. Lightning sparked a few spot fires in the area on Sunday, and there have been scattered reports of burglary and looting. And on Monday morning, a resident opened fire on a troublesome squirrel, startling responders and prompting a police response.

“We’re not seeing black smoke or flames,” Maketa said. “That doesn’t mean the fire’s done.”

About 4,100 people remain under a mandatory evacuation order, with more than 16,000 still under pre-evacuation advisement.

Incident commander Rich Harvey says the cost to fight the fire so far stands at $5.5 million. With 483 homes destroyed, damage will be in the tens of millions of dollars. 14,198 acres burned and two people were killed. Last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire was the most destructive wildfire in the state's history until last week. It destroyed 346 homes mostly in the city of Colorado Springs.