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Gazette Premium Content UPDATES: Number of homes declared total losses increase to 483

By The Gazette - Updated: June 16, 2013 at 7:44 am

LIVE UPDATES:

11:30 p.m. We have this tweet from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office: "Residents of last home in "red" who chose not to evac have been located and are SAFE. None left to account for at this  time."

7:38 p.m. Here is The Gazette's updated map of mandatory evacuation and pre-evacuation zones - with boundary revisions announced at 6:15 p.m. media briefing.

http://bit.ly/11GOKKt

 

7:35 p.m. Click on this link - http://bit.ly/11Qtgeb - to see a video of Colorado National Guardsmen working feverishly to save a house after a garage just feet away becomes totally engulfed in flames.

6:55 p.m. Sheriff's office spokesman Lt. Jeff Kramer said the updated number of totally destroyed homes in the Black Forest fire is now at 483.

There are 17 listed as partially damaged on the latest home assessment list. Click below to view the list.

http://bit.ly/14wdoOR

6:48 p.m. The Black Forest fire press briefing is over.

6:47 p.m. Sheriff Maketa told the media that his office anticipates identities of two people who died during the Black Forest fire will be released either Sunday or Monday.

As for the cause of the fire, it is still unknown but the sheriff said six tips concerning the fire's origin have come in via the tip line. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office tip line is 719-444-8393. People with photos that can help with the investigation can email them at blackforestfiretipline@elpasoco.com.

6:44 p.m. Rich Harvey said the forecast is about the same as hit the fire area on Saturday - warm, windy with thunderstorms.

He said those conditions are not too bad for firefighters.

6:41 p.m. Incident commander Rich Harvey said the Black Forest fire is now at 55 percent containment.

6:35 p.m. New pre-evacuation zones will go into effect at 8 p.m., Sheriff Terry Maketa said. Pre-evacuation zones opening up at that time will have County Line Road as the northern border and Walker Road and Hodgen Road as the borders to the south. Black Forest Road is the western boundary with Meridian Road to the east.

A more detailed map and description will be available shortly.

"Everyday we are accessing where we can open up more areas," Maketa said, noting that 1,400 to 1,500 households will likely be able to return home Saturday night.

6:32 p.m. Maketa announces evacuation zones that will be going from mandatory to pre-evacuation status.

6:27 p.m. Sheriff Maketa took the microphone at impromptu press briefing.

6:14 p.m. Black Forest fire news briefing about to begin.

5:50 p.m. A news briefing has been scheduled for 6:15 p.m. The news is coming out of the Sheriff's office, Lt. Jeff Kramer said.

Gazette reporter Ryan Handy will be live tweeting. Follow Ryan's tweets @ryanmhandy.

5:27 p.m. Seeing several tweets over the last 10 to 15 minutes about rain falling near the Black Forest burn area. Most report light rain just starting to begin but one tweeter said it was "pouring" at the Walmart on Woodmen Road just west of Powers Boulevard.

5:05 p.m. Here is The Gazette's updated map with mandatory evacuation and pre-evacuation zones - revised moments ago.

http://bit.ly/11GOKKt

5:02 p.m. Click this link - http://bit.ly/cwJyZc - to see photos of the Colorado National Guard fighting the Black Forest fire.

4:57 p.m. The Red Cross tweeted that shelters at UCCS on Austin Bluffs Parkway and at the Elbert County Fairgrounds in Kiowa are closed.

The shelter at Palmer Ridge High School in Monument remains open.

4:34 p.m. El Paso County Sheriff's Office update: 480 homes now considered "total loss"

Click the link below for the latest home assessment list.

http://bit.ly/14wdoOR

4:28 p.m. Yes, there is a severe thunderstorm watch until 9 p.m. for all of El Paso County, including the Black Forest fire area.

Right now clouds look menacing over downtown Colorado Springs and to the west above the mountains.

From downtown, however, it appears there are blue skies over the northern part of the county and possibly the fire zone.

4:22 p.m. The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region is reporting that more than 100 animals brought to their shelters during the Black Forest fire have been reunited with their owners.

The Humane Society is still caring for almost 800 animals at their shelters located at 610 Abbot Lane, Palmer Ridge High School and the El Paso County Fairgrounds.

While most of the animals have known owners, there are at least 30 unclaimed horses an other livestock at the fairgrounds.

4:15 p.m. Do you need help services or are simply looking for ways to lend a hand during the Black Forest fire?

Click the link below for an ever-growing guide.

http://bit.ly/13JSPgP

3:46 p.m. Fire officials said earlier Saturday that the fire had not grown since midday Friday.

Incident commander Rich Harvey said at the noon press briefing that crews were on the interior mopping up hotspots. He said a large focus was around homes that had not burned.

Harvey said there would be three rounds of during the process to put out the hotspots around uneffected homes.

The crews are working from the foundation outward. After one crew is done, Harvey said different firefighters would come in and patrol the same homes. On the third turn, he said another group of firefighters would join local officials to do the same thing and the verify that the house is safe before giving the thumbs-up to allow residents back home.

3:22 p.m. El Paso County Public Health just tweeted, saying that Tri-Lakes Cares is offering assistance to evacuees in the Tri-Lakes area. People who would like to take advantage of their services can call 719-481-4864.

2:55 p.m. Just a reminder about the re-entry procedure for evacuees.

Evacuees whose homes have not been effected by the fire are allowed go retrieve pets and emergency medication only. They are not being allowed in simply to see their homes. People permitted to do this must be accompanied by an escort. There are two points where people can meet escorts - Hodgen Road and Highway 83 and Vollmer and Burgess.

2:42 p.m. The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch for several southern Colorado counties including El Paso County and the Black Forest burn area.

The watch went into effect at 2:35 p.m. and is scheduled to end at 9 p.m.

2:40 p.m. Here are the latest stats on the Black Forest fire

Acres burned: 15,500

Containment: 45 percent

Deaths: 2

Date of origin:June 11, 2013 at 2:30 p.m.

Number of personell fighting the blaze:1,060

Injuries reported to date: 1

Firefighting cost to date:$3,505,198

2:15 p.m. Per El Paso County Sheriff's twitter: Homes on the following roads have been downgraded from mandatory to preevacuation status: Howells Road, Rainbow Lane, Ford Drive, Leprechaun Lane, Crosslen Lane, Timberlane Court, Timber Lane.

1 p.m. The hourlong noon briefing was the last one scheduled for Saturday, but information will still be released, Sheriff Maketa said. It is possible that updates to the home assessment list will come later Saturday.

12:55 p.m. Sheriff Maketa: Missing person mentioned earlier in the briefing has been found.  Out of 92 people on the "refused to evacuate" list, only two people listed homes at are destroyed. Fourteen addresses on the list have not yet been assessed.

12:50 p.m. About 500 families have gone to the Disaster Assistance Center, which is open this weekend. It is at 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road, 444-8300.

12:45 p.m. Black Forest fire Chief Bob Harvey: "We will be having meetings at the community center because it survived."

Firefighters have lost homes. The support since the very start of the fire has been astronomical.

"We will get through this."

12:35 p.m. Nebraska and Wyoming National Guard sent Black Hawk helicopters s to fight the Black Forest fire. Lt. Col Utterback with National Guard said military assets have not been reduced, they are ready if needed.

Chief of Falcon Fire Department Glenn Levy, "Yes, I have been in the same clothes for four days." He praises the work of firefighters, and for help recieved from others for the crews.

Firefighters have been leaving letters at every home they have come across, Levy said. They are also scheduling meetings. About 20 percent of the Black Forest fire was in Falcon. Levy shared his phone number so residents who lost homes could call him.

12:30 p.m. Rich Harvey, Type 1 incident commander who led the battle, said firefighters saw a lot less action last night, but still busy looking for hot spots.

Resources are still being added 266 firefighters came in Friday, 100 this morning, he said at the noon news briefing.

Containment increased to 45 percent. Everything will be checked multiple times.

"We want the fire to come out and fight now," Harvey said of fire. Sun will bring flames up, so firefighters can attack.

"We're looking forward to a successful day," he said.

12:25 p.m. "I feel pretty good about the progress that was made after yesterday's press conference," Sheriff Terry Maketa said at the noon news briefing.

No more land and no more structures were lost overnight into Saturday; 473 homes have been destroyed thus far.

There are between 20 and 40 law enforcement officers patrolling the area, Maketa said.

"We have not let up or reduced any of our security efforts," he said.

He asked people to avoid sneaking in, or using back roads. The District Attorney will not go light on looters.

Human error is possible as assessment teams go through the burn area. Maketa acknowledges growing frustration with information is not 100 percent accurate.

"It looks like a nuclear bomb went off in some of those areas," and homes are unrecognizable, he said.

"We have a list of people who refused to evacuate," Maketa said. That list is being compared to the list of homes lost. One new missing persons report has been filed. Investigators are looking through remains of a house.

11:55 a.m. VIA El Paso County Sheriff's PIO: Mandatory evacuation area re-entry passes may be issued as early as Monday, but safety comes first.

11:50 a.m. Mail delivery is returning to some areas impacted by the Black Forest fire, according to the United States Postal Service spokesman in Denver.

- The Elbert Post Office, ZIP 80106, which had relocated operations to Kiowa, is returning to their building. All routes out of Elbert are resuming today and will be delivering accumulated mail.

- The Black Forest Retail Postal Unit at the Forest Plaza Market will reopen Monday. All mail and services are being serviced out of the Briargate Station.

- Monument, ZIP 80132, still has 1,400 addresses that will not get delivery Saturday. However, 1,300 addresses that had been evacuated will see mail delivery service Saturday. All accumulated mail will be delivered, but if your address is still in an evacuation zone, you can pick it up at the main Post Office, 543 3rd St.

- Colorado Springs mail to the Gleneagle area, ZIP 80921, will be delivered Saturday, including all accumulated mail.

- Approximately 200 addresses serviced by Peyton, ZIP 80831 in the Black Forest Falcon will resume Saturday. About 25 will still be held at the Peyton Post Office, 13055 Bradshaw Road, because of closures.

ONGOING: Most mail for Black Forest, ZIP 80908, will not be delivered because of road closures. Mail is being held at Briargate Station, 8585 Criterion Dr., and can be picked up at the side door in the lobby from 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. The phone number to the station is (719) 265-4409.

11:15 a.m. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office emailed an update on the fire:
Number of Personnel: 1060
Crews: 1
Engines: 89
Dozers: 2
Water Tenders: 20
Helicopters: 7 Type 1 and 1 Type 3
Injuries to Date: 1
Cost to Date: $3,505,198

10:44 a.m.Emergency officials called asking us to clarify re-entry information. Evacuees are not allowed to enter the evacuation area to see their destroyed homes at this time. Evacuees whose homes are unaffected are allowed to get back to their house to gather emergency medications and pets only - not just to see their home. They can go only under escort. Residents who want to get back for medication or pets should go to Hodgen and Highway 83 or Vollmer and Burgess. Those escorts began this morning.

10:10 a.m. Gazette Reporter Lance  Benzel is covering the community meeting going on now at Palmer Ridge High School - standing room only. Follow @lancebenzel on Twitter for live tweets.

9:45 a.m. VIA El Paso County Sheriff's Office PIO on Twitter: All areas west of Highway 83 are in “all clear” - that is the pre-evacuation notice has been lifted.

9:40 a.m. VIA El Paso County Sheriff's Office PIO on Twitter: To protect property, unauthorized people found in evacuated and restricted areas will be criminally charged.

9:30 a.m. Gazette reporter Monica Mendoza reports that National Guard troops are posted at streets off Meridian Road, and entry points are barricaded.

9:25 a.m. The Colorado Springs Police Department is no longer on accident alert status, and is no longer on Priority 1 dispatch status. The changes were made so resources could be redirected during the Black Forest fire.

8:50 a.m. Law enforcement is enforcing the mandatory evacaution area and escorting people out, according to scanner chatter. This remains an active fire.

8:35 a.m. El Paso County Sheriff's Office is escorting people for critical medications or pet retrieval ONLY from checkpoints at Highway 83/Hodgen or Vollmer/Burgess.

8:30 a.m. Rain pelted the Black Forest fire area Friday, and more thunderstorms are in the forecast for Saturday, according to the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

"It will be very, very similar to yesterday," said meteorologist Patrick Cioffi.

There could be some rain, or none at all, he said. Overall, there will be only slight accumulation.

Lightning and wind will be primary concerns, Cioffi said.

That's news that fire crews fighting the fire do not want to hear. A meteorologist is attached to incident command around the clock sharing constant weather updates.

Portions of El Paso and Teller counties are under severe thunderstorm warning Saturday, with storms arriving in Colorado Springs after 1 or 2 p.m. and earlier in the mountains. Counties east of Colordao Springs are included in the warning.

The rest of the weekend and into next week will bring close to normal temperatures, he said.

However, hot and dry weather is expected to return Wednesday. Temperatures will be in the upper 80s around Colorado Springs, with the potential for windy conditions.

Too much rain could spell danger off the burn scar from the Waldo Canyon fire. Cioffi said one person is dedicated to watching the weather there.

8:15 a.m. All voluntary evacuations in the city of Colorado Springs have been lifted, according to a tweet from Mayor Steve Bach.

7:25 a.m. The Type 1 Incident Management Team did not update containment numbers or other details overnight.

Acreage lost in the fire dipped slight from 15,702 to 15,500 as of late Friday with more accurate aerial and GPS mapping.

Those numbers may increase as islands within the fire area and fingers along the perimeter continue to burn. There are numerous cooperating agencies assisting with the fire fighting efforts.

7:05 a.m. REMINDER - County commissioners are holding a public meeting at 10 a.m. at Palmer Ridge High School in Monument. The next news briefing on the fire is planned for noon.

6:45 a.m. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office released an updated proprty assessment of homes impacted by the Black Forest fire early this morning.

As of midnight, 473 homes were a total loss. Seventeen homes show partial damage and 3,181 homes appear unaffected.

Officials announced the new number around 1 a.m. The list is available here. If it doesn't load, Keep refreashing the page.

The Black Forest fire is the most destructive in Colorado history in terms of structures lost.

About 500 families have gone to the Disaster Assistance Center, which is open this weekend

"Residents of last home in "red" who chose not to evac have been located and are SAFE. None left to account for at this time."

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