COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. --
Firefighters are optimistic they will be able to increase the containment of the Waldo Canyon Fire Friday as President Barack Obama makes a visit to Colorado Springs to tour the devastation.
During a Friday morning news conference, Incident Commander Rich Harvey said the wildfire has burned 16,750 acres and is 15 percent contained.
Firefighters were able to build a fire line to the north of the fire, east of Highway 24. The focus Friday will be to build more fire line and increase containment.
Jerri Marr, supervisor of the Pike and San Isabel national forests where the blaze started, said favorable weather was a boon to firefighters Thursday.
"Yesterday we had great weather," she said. "Looks like we're going to have that same weather today."
Crews will be working extensively in the West Monument Creek area, which provides the majority of the Colorado Springs water, Harvey said.
The Waldo Canyon Fire has killed one person and burned 347 homes. The adult victim was found at a home at 2910 Rossmere St. in the Mountain Shadows subdivision. A second adult from the same address is missing, said Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey.
The police chief said the home was searched after authorities received information about several missing persons.
The Mountain Shadows area was put on pre-evacuation notice about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, and residents were part of the hurried evacuation hours later.
Less than 10 people are unaccounted for after the fire, officials said earlier, although they cautioned that the people simply may not have checked in at one of the many shelters.
Thorough searches of burned homes will begin on Friday.
Officials say they will release a list of homes destroyed or damaged by the fire. Officials say a list will be posted at the website springsgov.com by midmorning Friday.
Officials cautioned the number of homes that were burned in the fire could rise.
Officials said 20,085 homes and 160 commercial structures are still threatened.
"We now know hundreds of homes have been destroyed," said Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach. "We are working through the process, which is very painstaking, of assessing every address to make sure that we have absolutely accurate information on each address. The worst thing we could do would be to put out information that's inaccurate."
A public meeting was held Thursday evening at the UCCS Gallogly Events Center for those affected by the fire. The meeting was not open to the general public.
These are the streets where homes were lost in the fire:
- Trevor Lane
- Linger Way
- Rossmere Street
- Tallesson Court
- Sandray Court
- Majestic Drive
- Ravina Court
- Regal View Road
- Stoneridge Drive
- Heartstone Lane
- Karamy Court
- Lionsgate Lane
- Hot Springs Court
- Jenner Court
- Brogans Bluff
- Darien Way
- Rayburn Way
- Braeburn Way
- Timora Way
- Mirror Lake Court
- Wilson Road
- Harbor Pines Point
- Yankton Place
- Chambrey Court
- Charing Court
- Courtney Drive
- Vantage Vista Drive
- Vantage Ridge Court
- Huffman Court
- Aubrey Way
- Van Reen Drive
- Alabaster Way
- Capra Way
- Lannigan Street
The number of homes destroyed in the Waldo Canyon Fire is the most in Colorado history, according to Micki Trost, public information officer for the State Division of Emergency Management.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
A Family's Memories 'Just Burned' In Blaze
After waiting for two days, Rebekah and Byron Largent learned from lists distributed by authorities that their home was among the hundreds that burned to the ground in the most destructive wildfire ever to rage across Colorado.
It was especially hurtful as their house was destroyed on their daughter Emma's first birthday.
"Our minds just started sifting through all the memories of that house that we lost that can't be replaced," Rebekah Largent said Thursday night. "She remembered her wedding dress, a grandmother's china, the rocking chair where the couple would sit with Emma.
"Our little girl, our 1-year-old daughter, that's the house that she's lived in the longest. It's just really hard to have lost a lot of the memories connected to that, you know? They just burned," she said.
From above Colorado Springs, the destruction was painfully clear: Rows and rows of houses were reduced to smoldering ashes even as some homes just feet away survived and remained largely intact.
When he first saw the aerial photos of the homes burned in his neighborhood, Ryan Schneider recognized immediately that his house had been spared.
But relief quickly turned to sadness for his many friends and neighbors who hadn't been so lucky.
"I mean, there's a lifetime of things that people collect in these homes, and they've lost it all," said Schneider, vice president of the 1,700-home community association for the Mountain Shadows neighborhood.
Amid the devastation in the foothills of Colorado Springs, there were hopeful signs. Weather conditions improved Thursday and some evacuation orders were lifted by the evening, though there was no immediate word on how many people would be allowed back. People were told to still be ready to flee at a moment's notice.
The Air Force Academy was letting residents return Friday morning and officials said normal operations would resume throughout most of the academy.
"We're gaining more confidence," said Bret Waters, director of the Colorado Springs emergency management office. "It doesn't mean we're out of the woods."
Fighting The Fire
There are 1,200 firefighting personnel at the Waldo Canyon Fire working in 27 crews with 73 engines and six helicopters.
"We remain focused on the entire fire. We have firefighters all around, all perimeters, and they all have plans today to be out there engaged and make progress on containment," Harvey said. "We are holding at 15 percent contained, but we expect that figure to jump dramatically today."
The military has made helicopters available for use on the fire Friday on an as-needed basis.
A portable retardant plant is being set up at the Air Force Academy to shorten turnaround time and increase efficiency.
To date 14,154 gallons of retardant and 384,205 gallons of water have been dropped on the Waldo Canyon Fire.
FBI, ATF Helping With Possible Criminal Investigation
The cause of the fire remained under investigation Thursday, El Paso County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Jeff Kramer said. It is still not safe for investigators to enter the area where the fire started to probe its cause.
Both the FBI and the ATF are at the fire command post, vetting information and assisting authorities with their search for the cause of the fire.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is asking people to call a tip line -- 719-477-4205 -- with any information about how the fire started. Anyone who was around Waldo Canyon or Pyramid Mountain on Friday or Saturday is encouraged to call.
Kramer said U.S. Forest Service employees are staffing the tip line and have enough personnel to call back some tipsters and interview them for additional information.
GeoMAC Fire Map Updated From Overnight Infrared Info
To see this map in movable Google Earth, change the source in the upper right of the map to "Earth."
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