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Rain, Cooler Weather Slow Colorado Fire


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. In Colorado, cooler weather and some rain has helped crews begin to get a handle on the Black Forest fire that's burning just north of Colorado Springs. Yesterday, several thousand people were allowed back into their homes, but an estimated 30,000 people remain evacuated from the area.

The blaze has claimed two lives, and it has destroyed at least 473 homes. NPR's Kirk Siegler reports from Colorado Springs.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Yesterday was easily the best day yet for fire fighters and for the first time all week it allowed some of the exhausted first responders a moment to step back and reflect on the scale of the fire and its devastation.

BOB HARVEY: First of all I want to apologize to all of those people that lost homes, may have lost family members, may have lost their pets.

SIEGLER: Bob Harvey, chief of the local Black Forest Fire Department said the initial attack crews shine. They did everything they could that first day.

HARVEY: And it had us for lunch.

SIEGLER: But Harvey knows more than anyone that all the manpower in the world couldn't have stopped the wind-whipped Black Forest fire when it ignited Monday in a thick Ponderosa pine forest north of the city. Fire managers say it was burning to hot and intensely it created its own weather. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper praised some homeowners who had cleared brush and trees from around their property in recent months. He says that helped in some areas, but in others even that didn't matter.

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: It's just the hand of God and I think at a certain point we can be prepared, do everything we can in preparation. But we've also got to, you know, acknowledge that there's some things that we can't control.

SIEGLER: This week the Black Forest fire became Colorado's most destructive wildfire ever, a distinction that had been held by last year's Waldo Canyon fire. The cause of this week's deadly blaze is still under investigation. Kirk Siegler, NPR News, Colorado Springs.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
Kirk Siegler
As a correspondent on NPR's national desk, Kirk Siegler covers rural life, culture and politics from his base in Boise, Idaho.
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