The Colorado Springs Police Department will offer a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the person or persons who burglarized evacuated homes at the Waldo Canyon Fire.
The money was made available thanks to an anonymous donation, said Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey.
Authorities said they have had at least 22 burglary reports in the fire zone. There are also 60 reports of evacuees' cars being broken into while they were staying at nearby hotels.
Detectives continue to put together leads on finding suspects, Carey said.
"I think this $50,000 will actually help this and make some arrests," Carey said.
District Attorney Dan May said a first burglary charge can carry a prison sentence of up to 24 years. Each additional burglary charge can add another 24 years.
"I can assure the people of the Pikes Peak region that whenever we have probable cause to charge, we will be filing the maximum charges," May said. "We will be extremely tough on these cases."
Fire Victims Identified
The El Paso County Coroner formally identified the two victims killed in the Waldo Canyon Fire last week as William Everett, 74 and Barbara Everett, 73.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the cause of the fire continues. During a media briefing Thursday morning, Jeff Kramer of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, said the point of origin of the fire has been found, although investigators were not prepared to release it publically.
"I'm not at liberty to discuss details," Kramer said.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but now investigators know where to look, Kramer said.
Meanwhile, some 250 residents forced to flee their homes from the most destructive wildfire in Colorado's history were allowed to return home Wednesday.
Wednesday, evacuation orders were lifted at 5 p.m. for homes in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood.
The Mountain Shadows neighborhood was the worst hit when the fire exploded last week, destroying 346 homes.
Officials plan to allow more residents in to view their homes Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., mainly to allow insurance representatives to assess property.
On Thursday, the 28-square-mile Waldo Canyon Fire was 95 percent contained.
Incident Commander Rich Harvey said the focus Thursday was on the northeast corner of the fire, which is burning in "incredibly rugged country."
A hot shot crew was sent in Wednesday and reported back the terrain was "goat rock country," and very difficult to move around in, Harvey said.
Firefighters plan to "pound it" using helicopter water drops to put out hot spots, he said.
The area is under 24-hour surveillance and when no smoke is seen and no heat detected, firefighters will be able to say the fire is 100 percent contained, Harvey said.
Wednesday's rain helped firefighters increase containment around the fire, but small hot spots remain inside the perimeter.
Harvey said firefighters would patrol the inside of the fire putting out the hot spots in the coming days.
Full containment could come as early as this weekend.
Some Evacuation Orders Lifted For Mountain Shadows
All Mountain Shadows residents who reside on the following streets may return home after 5 p.m. Thursday:
Alabaster Way Aubrey Way Brograns Bluff Dr (west of Rossmere St) Flying W Ranch Rd Lanagan St Linger Way Rossmere St Sandray Ct Sceptor Way Talleson Ct Trevor Ln Wilson Rd (west of Rossmere St)
The area still has considerable risk, with certain areas considered unsafe. Colorado Springs Utilities continues to work to test and repair the gas lines in the remaining evacuated areas. Once considered safe, the mandatory evacuation orders will be lifted for the remaining homes.
Residents are advised to prepare for flash flooding in burn areas by staying alert to flash flood watches and warnings and avoiding low-lying areas and places that are known to flood. Residents should not cross streaming water.
For fire-related information and services, call the Disaster Recovery Center at 444-8300 (M-F, 9 a.m. 7 p.m.) or Pikes Peak United Way 2-1-1 Information & Referral to access services for non-emergency needs at (719) 955-0742 (24 hours a day, 7 days week). The El Paso County Disaster Recovery Center is providing access to services such as health, regional building, grief counseling, insurance, etc. from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at 105 N. Spruce Street.
Map Of Homes Destroyed, Damaged In Waldo Canyon Fire
GeoMAC Fire Map Updated From Overnight Infrared Info View Larger Map
To see this map in movable Google Earth, change the source in the upper right of the map to "Earth."
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