BLACK FOREST, Colo. - The Black Forest Fire is now being called 100 percent contained. Meanwhile, fire investigators spent the day searching a 28 by 28 foot area for the cause.
The fire burned 14,280 acres in Black Forest, north of Colorado Springs.
"They [investigators] have all but ruled out natural causes as the cause of this fire," said El Paso County Sheriff's Terry Maketa on Thursday. "We are pretty confident it was not, for instance, a lightning strike."
Mekata also said the investigation into the point of origin has shrunk.
"I’ve referred to it as 40 x 40 foot area," Maketa said. "That has now shrunk down to a focus of about 28 square feet. Investigators are on their hands and knees with magnifying glasses, looking at everything there is on the grass, every needle, every sliver of wood."
Maketa said investigators hope to finish by 5 p.m. Thursday.
Most of the Black Forest Fire evacuees were allowed to return home on Thursday morning.
The Sheriff's Office also allowed residents who received re-entry packets with red placards open access to burn areas after 5 p.m. They are allowed to enter and exit the areas without restriction on timing.
The fire is the most destructive in state history with a total of 509 homes have burned, 28 are damaged and 3,653 remain unaffected. View a complete list of the homes lost: http://ch7ne.ws/13CR4lB
The cost of fighting the fire is now more than $8.5 million, according to Incident Commander Rich Harvey.
Two people were killed in the fire which broke out June 11 around 1 p.m. Maketa said the couple that died was notified about the fire at 3:34 and 3:43. No one answered the call at 3:34. At 3:43, the call was 'abandoned," which means the call may have gone to an answering service, someone may have picked up and not hit the right key saying they heard the message, officials don't know. The couple did not have a cell phone registered.
"They knew the threat that existed," Maketa said based on conversations the couple had with neighbors.
El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn said they are working on setting up a planning committee made up of citizens and key interest groups to oversee the rebuilding and long-term planning.
"We will restore this community. We will rebuild, and we're going to be moving forward. We're going to come back stronger," Glenn said.