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2 dead in Colorado wildfire

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Colorado Springs, Colo. (CNN) — Firefighters made little headway Thursday against a wildfire near Colorado Springs, which has claimed the lives of at least two people.

“We recently, in the last few hours, did recover the remains of two individuals,” El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa told reporters.

It was not immediately clear how they died.

The Black Forest Fire, burning northeast of the city, now appears to be the most destructive in terms of property lost in Colorado state history, El Paso County spokesman Dave Rose told CNN.

As of Thursday, firefighters had set up a loose perimeter around the blaze, which was 5% contained, up from 0% earlier.

“The fire is very, very active within the containment area, and we don’t have a high level of confidence at all that we’ll be able to hold all of these lines around this fire,” Rose said.

colorado wildfire

The fire’s evacuation area is 93,000 acres, affecting approximately 38,000 people and 13,000 homes, and the flames are estimated to have burned through 15,700 acres, Maketa said.

That marked a dramatic increase from the 8,500 acres officials said had been burned by Wednesday night, he noted.

“Wind is probably our No. 1 threat,” Maketa said. Combined with dry brush and high temperatures, the winds have fanned devastating flames.

Maketa said he struggled to find a phrase to describe how ferocious the fire is, settling on “very dynamic.”

After he spoke, residents of about 1,000 homes in Colorado Springs were told to evacuate: “Please leave the area as soon as possible,” Police Chief Pete Carey told reporters.

In northeast Colorado Springs, CNN iReporter Heather Croze took photos outside her home, capturing a billowing plume of smoke. One shot shows just how wide the smoke was on the horizon.

A county fairground northeast of the Black Forest Fire looked like a Noah’s Ark Thursday with families who fled with their animals to escape the looming inferno.

There were nearly 30 chickens, several hundred horses, a handful of cows and a couple calves, and many alpacas and miniature horses, according to the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office. Assorted dogs, cats, goats and donkeys mingled with mules and llamas. Three stallions were there. And for good measure, one yak.

At least eight families also have taken refuge at the Elbert County Fairgrounds in Kiowa, the Denver Post reported, which is about 35 miles southeast of Denver.

Joanne Gaishin slept outside in her car after fleeing her home with 18 chickens and three turkeys. “I stayed in the front seat of my car with all of my fowl in there, with the roosters crowing in the morning,” she told the paper.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

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