BLACK FOREST - Some mandatory evacuations for the Black Forest Fire were lifted Saturday night. Residents to the north were allowed to begin returning home at 8 p.m. Saturday. They'll remain under pre-evacuation and must be ready to go at a moment's notice.
The fire burning in Black Forest started Tuesday afternoon has claimed two lives and destroyed 483 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 55 percent containment as of Saturday afternoon. 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.
As of Saturday, the cost of fighting the fire was $3,505,198.
There are 1,060 firefighters currently 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."
Saturday morning, Maketa said there had been no changes to the fire map. The fire's incident commander said crews were looking forward to a successful day battling the fire.
More than 1,000 firefighters are helping fight the Black Forest Fire, which stretches to 25 square miles, or 15,500 acres.
Saturday morning, 20,378 people, or about 7,000 households, remained evacuated.
Officials stress that people should stay off the roads near the fire to avoid adding any congestion to people trying to evacuate.
All mandatory evacuation order for Colorado Springs and Elbert County were lifted Saturday morning.
Earlier this week the evacuation area covered more than 94,000 acres, including 38,000 people and affected 34,000 homes.
Saturday afternoon some mandatory evacuation orders were changed to pre-evacuation orders.
As of Saturday evening the mandatory evacuation was listed as: northern boundary - Walker Road over to Black Forest. At Black Forest the northern boundary moves south to Hodgen Road. The southern boundary is Burgress Road. The Eastern boundary is Meridian Road. It remains closed.
The 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.
Evacuation updates here: https://twitter.com/EPCSheriff??
Anyone looking for family or friends can check here: http://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php
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.
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