BLACK FOREST - A large fire burning in Black Forest that started Tuesday afternoon has claimed two lives and destroyed 473 homes, according to fire officials. It has consumed more houses than 2012's Waldo Canyon Fire - making it the most destructive fire in state history.
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The wind-driven fire is estimated at 15,702 acres as of Friday. There is 30 percent containment. Seventeen homes were a partial loss as of Saturday morning. Around 3,181 structures remain unaffected.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but fire officials say there is no evidence of lightning strikes in the area.
There are 800 personnel fighting the blaze.
According to fire officials, the estimated containment date of the Black Forest Fire is June 20.
"We're turning a corner and, although we had just the terrible tragedy, the success of the firefighting efforts was much better, and the outcomes were much more beneficial even though we had some wind, and that was really challenging at times," El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said. "I'm not even sure we had any fire losses Thursday night, if any, maybe one or two."
Thursday afternoon, more mandatory evacuations were announced for the City of Colorado Springs.
The right lane is closed on I-25 in both directions between Interquest - Baptist north of Colorado Springs due to nearby evacuation orders within the Black Forest Fire area. All exits to areas east of I-25 are closed.
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Officials stress that people should stay off the roads near the fire to avoid adding any congestion to people trying to evacuate.
The evacuation area covers more than 94,000 acres, includes 38,000 people and affects 34,000 homes.
Thursday afternoon, the mandatory evacuation was listed as: northern boundary - North Gate and Old North Gate Road, southern boundary - Flying Horse Club Drive to include homes south of Flying Horse Club Drive on Barossa Valley Road and Veneto Wary)/Vine Cliff Heights/Equinox Drive/Serenity Peak Drive, eastern boundary - Highway 83, western boundary - Voyager Parkway.
Mandatory evacuation means you are in immediate danger. Residents are to load families and pets into their vehicles and leave immediately. Make sure to take essential items. If you're unsure of what to take with you, here is a list that 9NEWS Medical Expert Dr. John Torres discussed previously: http://on9news.tv/11iInde.
There are voluntary evacuations areas which are west of Interstate 25 and all areas north of Old Ranch Road within in the city limits of Colorado Springs. Evacuation updates here: https://twitter.com/EPCSheriff??
Anyone looking for family or friends can check here: http://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php
View Black Forest Fire Evacuation & Shelter Map in a larger map
The sheriff's office says the fire was first reported near the 12600 block of Peregrine Way in Black Forest.
"[This is] very reminiscent of what we saw in Waldo Canyon," El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said.
The Red Cross is set up an evacuation shelter for the fire in Black Forest. The shelter is at Monument High School which can be found in the 19200 block of Monument Road. There is also a large animal evacuation shelter at the Elbert County Fairgrounds, which can be found at 95 Ute Ave in Kiowa.
Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management activated its Emergency Operations Center at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Fort Carson Fire Department and the 4th CAB are also preparing to support airdrop firefighting efforts in the Black Forest community. A P-2 heavy air tanker heading to the fire from Silver City, Nev.
"Human shelters" were established at Palmer Ridge High School and Elbert County Fairgrounds.
Large Animal Shelters are established at the Norris Penrose Equestrian Center and the Elbert County Fairgrounds 95 Ute Avenue, Kiowa, CO. 303-718-3343. Citizens can call 719-444-8300 for information on the fire.
See what the fire looked like when it first broke out below:
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