The worst days of the most destructive wildfire in Colorado's history are probably over, but frustrations for the survivors continue.
Firefighters, with the help of cooler weather, have beaten back the Black Forest blaze that swept through hundreds of homes northeast of Colorado Springs last week.
The 15,500-acre fire was 65% contained as of Sunday afternoon, with no more homes lost over the weekend -- so the toll stands at 483 homes destroyed. All missing persons have been accounted for.
“It’s not crazy out there, folks," Rich Harvey, incident commander for the fire response, said at a news conference. "There are not a lot of active flames, open flames."
But thousands of area residents still faced blockades and Colorado National Guard checkpoints around the disaster area.
Officials reported four allegations of burglary, plus one arrest for obstruction and an arrest for someone posing as a police officer or firefighter to get into the destruction zone.
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, expressing frustration, also gave a fatherly scold to residents who he said were requesting deputy escorts to gather things from their homes, then refusing to leave.
Maketa threatened to "arrest a victim of this fire" if residents didn't stay patient.
“I don’t want to get the cart ahead of the horse, and I don’t want to create a false belief that tomorrow everyone’s going home, because that’s not going to happen," Maketa told reporters and residents. "We have a crime scene in there. We have fire in there; we have downed power lines in there. We have trees falling each time there’s a gust of wind.”
The blaze killed two people who remained unidentified as a medical examiner worked to confirm their identities, though Maketa said they appeared to be residents who were trying to gather their things.
"The individuals that were in, knew there was an evacuation," Maketa said. "They had gone into the area to retrieve property, and they waited a little too long.”
Officials suspect the Black Forest wildfire was man-made and said they were narrowing in on its source. Maketa expected the investigation to be meticulous, with officials sifting through ash, debris and roots in the ground.
“This is a crime scene until proven otherwise, and I’m not going to compromise the investigation or the evidence at the risk of letting people in too soon," Maketa said.
Maketa said investigators were getting help from state officials and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
As for the other wildfire in the state, firefighters as of Sunday evening had 85% contained a fire in the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park that had destroyed 48 commercial structures since Tuesday.
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