Black Forest Fire destroys 511 homes, fire zone reopens to public Saturday

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BLACK FOREST, Colo. --Authorities increased the number of homes destroyed in the Black Forest Fire from 509 to 511 Friday. They also said the entire fire zone would be reopened to the public on Saturday morning.

It was declared fully contained Thursday evening.

Besides the 511 homes it destroyed, 28 were damaged. The good news is 3,653 homes were unaffected in the fire zone.

"We will restore this community. We will rebuild. We are going to come back stronger", El Paso County Commissioner Daryl Glenn said.

Investigators have wrapped up exploring what may be a crime scene where the fire started.

Officials said seven burglaries have been reported as of Wednesday.

"You're a sad person," if you burglarized a house in the burn area, Maketa said during a press conference.

On Monday morning, a resident opened fire on a troublesome squirrel, startling responders and prompting a police response.

The two victims who died in the Black Forest Fire last week have been identified as Marc Herklotz, 52, and his wife, 50-year-old Robin Herklotz according to the El Paso County coroner.

The two were in their garage apparently preparing to leave when they died.
The weather has been in firefighters' favor recently, but officials said this week's forecast will be a test for firefighters because it will be hot and dry, with very low humidity.

Incident commander Rich Harvey said the cost to fight the fire to date stands at $8.5 million. With more than 500 homes destroyed, damage will be in the tens of millions of dollars.

A total of 14,198 acres have burned. 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.