Investigators Find Origin of Waldo Canyon Fire

The eight-agency team investigating the 18,247-acre blaze reached the fire's point of origin, leaving investigators with the painstaking task of mapping the area and searching for clues on the fire's cause.

Colorado Springs police Chief Pete Carey. Police received 22 reports of at least homes being burglarized during the evacuation. National Guard members stationed at Rossmere Street Thursday night said the neighborhood had seen as many as 30 burglaries a night for days while homes were evacuated and the police department stretched itself thin.

City and federal officials also began planning to rehabilitate the scorched earth west of the neighborhood to mitigate the next danger facing the Front Range: flash flooding.

The U.S. Forest Service began assembling a burn area emergency rehabilitation team, which will assess the severity of the blackened forest and decide how to mitigate runoff and erosion, said Rich Harvey, the incident commander. The options facing the team include downing burned trees in a certain direction to prevent runoff, he said.

The focus on recovery and rehabilitation came as the Waldo Canyon fire appeared mostly extinguished.

The Type I firefighting team that has been working on the fire for the past week and a half prepared to transfer over to a Type III team on Saturday morning.

The move means fewer firefighters assigned -- likely a couple hundred, Harvey said. There were 776 firefighters tending to smoldering hot spots Thursday morning, down from a peak of nearly 1,600 personnel.

Islands of unburned timber inside fire lines will move up in priority as containment increases even further.

"We don't intend to just let them burn out," Harvey said.

The last uncontained area was a spot west of Blodgett Peak, an area that firefighters planned to hit with helicopters until no smoke is seen or heat detected on infrared sensors for 24 hours.

"That country is incredibly rugged country... that is goat-rock country," Harvey said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service