BLACK FOREST - A large fire burning in Black Forest that started Tuesday afternoon has destroyed 379 homes as of Thursday morning, according to fire officials.
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The fire is estimated at 11,000 to 12,000 acres as of Wednesday night, with zero percent containmnent.
Firefighters said Tuesday afternoon the fire was very aggressive and was moving quickly.
Maketa stresses that people should stay off the roads near the fire to avoid adding any congestion to people trying to evacuate.
As of Wednesday night, pre-evacuation orders were expanded. They now include areas of I-25 east to Highway 83 from Northgate Blvd. North to Highway 105. About 9,000 people are affected.
On Wednesday morning all roads within the evacuation area closed - including Highway 83, Burgess Road, Walker Road and Meridian Road.
The areas south of Walker Road, north of Burgess Road, east of Highway 83, and west of Meridian Road are under a mandatory evacuation. At that time, residents were not allowed back in once they left the area. The evacuation area is about 24,000 acres.
East of Meridian to Eastonville, Ayer Road north all the way to Hogden are now under mandatory evacuations. Overnight evacuation updates here: https://twitter.com/EPCSheriff??
Anyone looking for family or friends can check here: http://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php
View Black Forest Fire Evacuation & Shelter Map in a larger map
The sheriff's office says the fire was first reported near the 12600 block of Peregrine Way in Black Forest. Video from SKY9 showed homes in a heavily-wooded area burning Tuesday.
Officials say more than 3,600 people were called and 1,259 homes were evacuated. Another 383 were asked to voluntarily evacuate.
"[This is] very reminiscent of what we saw in Waldo Canyon," El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said.
He also said there has been a search and rescue focus for the elderly population that may have trouble evacuating.
The Red Cross is set up an evacuation shelter for the fire in Black Forest. The shelter is at Monument High School which can be found in the 19200 block of Monument Road. There is also a large animal evacuation shelter at the Elbert County Fairgrounds, which can be found at 95 Ute Ave in Kiowa.
Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management activated its Emergency Operations Center at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Fort Carson Fire Department and the 4th CAB are also preparing to support airdrop firefighting efforts in the Black Forest community. A P-2 heavy air tanker heading to the fire from Silver City, Nev.
"Human shelters" were established at Palmer Ridge High School and Elbert County Fairgrounds.
Large Animal Shelters are established at the Norris Penrose Equestrian Center and the Elbert County Fairgrounds 95 Ute Avenue, Kiowa, CO. 303-718-3343. Citizens can call 719-444-8300 for information on the fire.
See what the fire looked like when it first broke out below:
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