By Jenny Deam
Los Angeles Times
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Black Forest fire, the most destructive in Colorado history, has now turned deadly, with authorities announcing Thursday evening that two people were killed, apparently while trying to flee the flames.
Two bodies were discovered about 2 p.m. Thursday in a garage with the car doors open, El Paso County Sheriff Perry Maketa said at a news conference. The gender of the victims was not disclosed.
Maketa said the pair apparently died Tuesday, the day the fire broke out.
The pair received a phone call about 4:20 p.m. that day and reported that they could see an orange glow to the west. They said they were preparing to evacuate a house in a heavily wooded area.
The pair received another call at 5 p.m., and the callers later told authorities that popping and crackling could be heard in the background.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Authorities have not said whether the fire might have been intentionally set, but Maketa described the inquiry into the deaths as a criminal investigation. He did not elaborate.
Earlier Thursday, authorities announced that the Black Forest fire had burned at least 360 homes. “I’m very hopeful we didn’t lose any homes today,” Maketa said.
The fire was just 5% contained and has prompted the evacuation of about 39,000 people.
The fire is about 10 miles east of last year’s Waldo Canyon fire, which until now had been considered the most destructive in Colorado history after killing two people and destroying 346 homes.