(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) — Firefighters on Friday have made some progress battling the massive Black Forest fire burning near Colorado Springs, Colo. The blaze, called the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history, has now consumed 400 homes, but authorities said Friday that the flames are now 30 percent contained.
Fire Incident Commander Rich Harvey warned that it’s too soon to celebrate.
“It’s not a victory yet. There’s still a lot of work to be done out there on the fire,” Harvey said Friday.
Fire crews got a major break Friday after thunderstorms cooled the area down. Decreased winds have also helped to calm the situation, but fire officials say there are still hot spots that could be the catalyst for another fire to burn if drier conditions continue.
Police on Thursday began investigating the deaths of two people found within the fire zone as the wildfire turned deadly.
Two bodies were found in their garage near their car with the doors open Thursday. It appears they were loading last-minute items and had waited too long before evacuating, according to El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who says friends told police they had just talked to the couple who died trying to escape the flames.
“They could see a glow to the West. They were packing their personal belongings to get out,” Maketa says friends of the couple told authorities.
Though Maketa has given no indication that the fire was intentionally set to the home, the police have started a criminal investigation into the pair’s deaths.
More than 40,000 people were under mandatory orders to evacuate on Thursday, some of which were lifted Friday. During early evacuations, some people refused to leave the area, prompting fears that more bodies could be found.
Sheriff Maketa said Thursday that approximately 38,000 people and 13,000 homes have already been evacuated or affected by the evacuations.
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Steve Almasy, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Lindsay Isaac, CNN