Colorado Wildfire Causing Record Damage

High Park fire has destroyed 181 homes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2012 2:38 AM CDT
A National Guardsman stops a motorist from driving down Highway 14 north of Laporte, Colorado yesterday.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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(Newser) – The wildfire that has been raging in Colorado for more than a week has now scorched more than 85 square miles of land and destroyed 181 homes, making it the most destructive wildfire in the state's history. The High Park fire has also been blamed for the death of a 62-year-old grandmother whose remains were found in a destroyed mountain cabin. More than 1,600 firefighters are now fighting the blaze but officials say it could take up to four weeks to fully contain it, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Several hundred people have been forced to flee the fire zone in the north of the state, although some whose homes have been destroyed have been allowed back to survey the damage. Even those who lost their homes are showing remarkable good grace, a county sheriff tells the Denver Post. "The first thing they do is thank the firefighters," he says. The National Guard has deployed troops around the burn area to prevent looting, and one man with "phony firefighter credentials" has been arrested for felony theft and impersonating a fire official, police say. (Read more Colorado stories.)

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