Black Forest Fire: 85 percent contained; More evacuations lifted at 11am; More to be lifted at 2pm

Fire has burned for one week

BLACK FOREST, Colo. - The Black Forest Fire is now 85 percent contained.

"Last night, the crews had difficulty finding smokes to put out," said Incident Commander Rich Harvey.

However, fire commanders are still concerned about an area off Goshawk Road. Full shifts of firefighters are continuing to work in the fire zone, Harvey said.

About 2,609 people remain evacuated. (See the evacuation map below or click here: http://ch7ne.ws/18SxyHo)

More than 1,300 evacuees in the Black Forest Fire zone were allowed to go home at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning. More will be allowed to go home Tuesday afternoon.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office lifted the evacuation order at 11 a.m. for all areas east of Vollmer Road and north of Burgess Road. Residents may access the area through Walker Road, Murphy Road, Hodgen Road, Latigo Boulevard,  Vollmer Road, Raygor Road and Meridian Road.

Meridian Road north of Hodgen Road is now open. Residents trying to reenter will need to show their driver’s license or registration.

Residents in the Cathedral Pines subdivision will likely be allowed to go home at 2 p.m. today.

The number of homes lost in the Black Forest Fire is now 502, and that number is expected to increase, according to the sheriff's office.

"It is not new fire activity," said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa explained, it's just a better assessment of the number of homes that are lost.

Maketa said deputies are working with the El Paso County Assessor's Office to accurately identify the number of homes in the area.

"During this assessment, we identified additional structures that are considered to be a total loss," Maketa said. "Therefore, the total number of homes considered a total loss has increased from 483 to 502."

Maketa said official hope to finish their assessment by the end of the day on Tuesday.

View a complete list of the homes lost: http://ch7ne.ws/13CR4lB

Maketa reported that law enforcement is investigating reports of six burglaries in the fire zone. Two of them in the last 24 hours.

The cost of fighting the fire is now more than $7 million, Harvey said.

Two people have been killed in the fire, which broke out June 11 around 1 p.m. They have not yet been publicly identified. Maketa said, quite honestly, that the coroner has very little to work with. The coroner has requested additional medical records to help with the identification.

Their bodies were found in the garage and their car doors were open. Maketa said they appeared to be in the process of evacuating.

-- Investigation into fire continues --

The investigation into the cause of the fire continues.

A new special investigator from the Western Slope arrived Monday night and was on scene Tuesday morning. The investigator said she wanted to review the area before receiving any briefings so she could bring a fresh set of eyes to the investigation.

Maketa said the investigation is currently focused on a 40' x 40' area.

"We are zeroing in on the point of origin," Maketa said. "It's a very slow, methodical process."

Investigators believe it was human-caused.

Crews hope to have the Black Forest Fire fully under control by Thursday.

See the map of the containment around the area: http://ch7ne.ws/1279HtV


View Black Forest Fire Evacuation Map in a larger map