Colorado fires 2013 destroy hundreds of homes
Colorado fires 2013 spread through a dry, densely wooded area of Colorado Thursday, destroying at least 360 homes. Hot temperatures, wind gusts, and bone-dry forest conditions fueled the Colorado fires 2013.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
A wildfire in a dry, densely wooded area of Colorado has destroyed at least 360 homes — nearly four times the previous estimate and a number that seemed likely to climb as the flames kept burning out of control, authorities said Thursday.Skip to next paragraph
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The tally of lost homes was a dramatic increase from Wednesday evening, when 92 homes were listed as gone. The blaze in the Black Forest area northeast of Colorado Springs is now the most destructive in Colorado history, surpassing last year's Waldo Canyon fire, which burned 347 homes, killed two people and led to $353 million in insurance claims.
"I never in my wildest dreams imagined we'd be dealing a year later with very similar circumstances," said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. "Maybe we just had 20 to 30 years of luck."
Deputies still have not been able to verify the condition of 79 other homes, so the losses could rise.
Some of the homes that were previously listed as standing were destroyed as high winds pushed the 23-square-mile wildfire back into areas that had already burned, the sheriff said.
The number also rose because deputies worked through the night to assess the damage, although they were also pushed out by the flames at times.
"Houses we knew were standing yesterday I personally witnessed they were lost last night," Maketa said.
Fueled by hot temperatures, wind gusts and bone-dry forest conditions, the flames have also forced more evacuations. About 38,000 people who live in an area spanning nearly 70 square miles were under mandatory orders to get out.
Jaenette Coyne was one of those ordered to leave as quickly as possible.
After calling 911 to report smoke behind her home, Coyne estimated she had five minutes to leave home. There was no time to grab wedding albums, fingerprint artwork by her 20-month-old daughter, quilts her grandmother made or the family's three cats.
"We left with nothing," she said.
She and her husband later watched on television as flames engulfed their house.
"I don't know how to tell you in words what it felt like," she said. "It's the worst thing I've ever felt in my whole life."
Part of neighboring Elbert County, including two camps with about 1,250 children and adults, was also evacuated.
No injuries or deaths have been reported, but Maketa said officials are trying to confirm the whereabouts of one person reported missing.
The fire was among several that have been burning along Colorado's Front Range. Wildfires were also burning in New Mexico, Oregon and California, where a smokejumper was killed fighting one of dozens of lightning-sparked blazes.