Black Forest residents eager to return home as more evacuations are lifted

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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. -- On Saturday night, 25 to 30 percent of mandatory evacuation areas for the Black Forest Fire were downgraded to a pre-evacuation status.

Between 1,400 to 1,500 households were allowed to go back home, which meant long traffic lines for residents eager to get back to their houses.

During a Saturday evening press conference, Sheriff Maketa said they are very near the end of the home assessment, with 100 more homes left to be evaluated.

Officials also said that it could take several days, or even weeks before people have “free” access to the burn zone.

“It looks like a nuclear bomb went off in some of those areas,” and homes are unrecognizable, he said.

There were two major traffic lines waiting on Highway 83 near Walker Road Saturday night. One  stretched about 100 vehicles, the other included a half-dozen.

Everyone in each line had the same thing in common: they were anxious to get back to their Black Forest home, even if there wasn't much of a home remaining.

At about 8:30 p.m., the El Paso County Sheriff's Office allowed the longer line to cross through a previous roadblock and head home on their own to the residences untouched by the fire.

Those in the much shorter line had to wait to be escorted into areas where homes had been destroyed.

Some of the people waiting in the shorter line already acknowledged that their homes were gone.

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