Colorado Wildfire Now a 'Crime Scene'

483 structures destroyed

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 17, 2013 11:11 AM CDT

(Newser) – Colorado's Black Forest fire is now 65% contained, but authorities are still puzzling over the cause of the blaze that's destroyed at least 483 structures. Now, the El Paso County sheriff is calling the 16,000-acre fire a "crime scene" until there's proof to the contrary, CNN reports. "It has far expanded beyond just my arson investigator," says Terry Makata. "We have brought experts in"—including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives—"to give us the greatest possible chance to not only determine the cause, but whether there was criminal intent or not."

It took only a few days for authorities to increase containment from 5% to 65%, and with temperatures in the coming days forecast in the upper 70s, with a 40% chance of rain, the outlook is improving. But it's too late for many homes: "You can't even recognize where there was a house or some other kind of structure," says Makata. Meanwhile, southwest of Colorado Springs, the Royal Gorge Fire is 100% contained, authorities say, though it's burned more than 3,200 acres and some 20 buildings. Officials are also keeping an eye on the Ward Gulch Fire in western Colorado, which hasn't yet ruined any structures.

A firefighter douses hot spots off Hodgen Road as crews continue battling the Black Forest wildfire Saturday, June 15, 2013, near Colorado Springs, Colo.
A firefighter douses hot spots off Hodgen Road as crews continue battling the Black Forest wildfire Saturday, June 15, 2013, near Colorado Springs, Colo.   (AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo)
A helicopter flies underneath a thunderstorm that dumped rain on a troubled area of the Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs, Colo. on Friday, June 14, 2013.
A helicopter flies underneath a thunderstorm that dumped rain on a troubled area of the Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs, Colo. on Friday, June 14, 2013.   (AP Photo/Bryan Oller)
Landon Epperson, 10, waves United States flags while first responders from the Black Forest Fire enter a fire camp at Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunday, June 16, 2013.
Landon Epperson, 10, waves United States flags while first responders from the Black Forest Fire enter a fire camp at Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunday, June 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Residents and press gather for an update on the progress of the Black Forest Fire in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunday, June 16, 2013.
Residents and press gather for an update on the progress of the Black Forest Fire in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sunday, June 16, 2013.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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