Firefighters further contain blaze, but certain areas appear as if they were hit by ‘nuclear bomb.’

Last updated: June 15. 2013 11:00PM - 743 Views

Black Forest Fire evacuee Karen Hilborn covers her face from smoke Friday while awaiting an El Paso County Sheriff's escort in Colorado Springs.
Black Forest Fire evacuee Karen Hilborn covers her face from smoke Friday while awaiting an El Paso County Sheriff's escort in Colorado Springs.
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado sheriff said firefighters “are getting the upper hand” on the most destructive wildfire in state history Saturday, an announcement that came as authorities gained a clearer picture of the grim landscape the blaze has left behind.


No additional homes were destroyed as fire crews expanded containment lines, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said. Also, there were no new reports of injury or death, he said.


The fire that exploded Tuesday outside Colorado Springs, amid record-setting heat and tinder-dry conditions, has destroyed nearly 500 homes and killed two people, whose bodies were found inside their garage Thursday, their car doors open as though they had been about to flee.


On Saturday, worried residents waited for permission to return to their neighborhoods to see whether their homes were still standing.


Maketa said the fire’s destruction has made it difficult for his deputies to assess damage.


Deputies have said “it looks like a nuclear bomb went off in some of those areas, and you can’t even recognize whether it was a house or some other kind of structure,” Maketa said. “That is the level of incineration and destruction that took place in some areas.”


Containment is at 45 percent, an increase from 30 percent on Friday. It’s unknown what sparked the blaze, but investigators believe it was human-caused.


Most mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted, as the fire zone remained at 25 square miles.


Some residents already have gotten to see the damage for themselves. Jack and Judy Roe were able to tour their neighborhood Friday and saw to their relief that their house had been spared. Several other homes on their block, however, were destroyed. “Our hearts were breaking for our neighbors,” Judy Roe said.


Describing the scene, she said she saw charred piles of what remained of homes, with bricks the only distinguishable feature. “But other than that, everything is black. The ground, everything is just black,” she said.


Some residents were forced to evacuate so quickly they didn’t have time to pack an extra change of clothes.


“This is my wardrobe,” said Bob Metzger, signaling to his jeans and polo shirt. Metzger and his wife, Barbara, were among those who lost their house.


The site of the wildfire is a few miles away from the state’s second most destructive wildfire, the Waldo Canyon Fire, which burned last summer.

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