Black Forest fire burns 360 homes, kills two
The worst forest fire in Colorado history turned deadly Thursday when at least two people died in the blaze , that is threatening the western state's second largest city, authorities said, dpa reported.
Evacuation orders were issued for thousands of homes in Colorado Springs, prompting huge traffic jams as residents clogged the highways to flee the fast-moving flames as thick smoke blanketed the region.
The Black Forest fire has burned 360 homes since Tuesday and forced the evacuation of more than 38,000 people, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa told a press conference, confirming the finding of two dead. "Those numbers are pretty staggering," he said.
Fueled by strong winds, high temperatures and low humidity, the blaze grew from 6,000 hectares to 7,000 hectares and was just five per cent contained.
The toll of property destruction surpassed the record set last year when the Waldo Canyon fire destroyed 347 homes in another area of Colorado Springs. The city of over 425,000 residents is some 100 kilometres south of Denver.
The cause is still unknown, but fire officials said there was no evidence of lightning strikes in the area. The region is one of many in Colorado to see huge rural population growth in wooded areas that are susceptible to forest fire.
There was better news from the front lines of the Royal Gorge fire, which was burning on more than 600 hectares and was 20 per cent contained.
The blaze has destroyed some 40 structures and almost burnt the Royal Gorge bridge, which is the highest suspension bridge in the world at a height of some 291 metres.