US & Canada

Two people killed by raging Colorado Springs wildfire

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Media captionThe most destructive wildfire in the history of the US state of Colorado has killed two people, as Alastair Leithead reports

Two people have been killed by a wildfire raging north of the US city of Colorado Springs, police said.

Their bodies were recovered from the Black Forest area, where the blaze has destroyed nearly 380 homes since it started on Tuesday.

Some 39,000 people have left their homes amid what authorities describe as the most destructive wildfire in Colorado's history.

It is one of three blazes currently burning in the state.

Another fire farther west partially damaged the world's highest suspension bridge on the Arkansas River and destroyed most of the state park around it, including many buildings.

'Go now'

The Royal Gorge fire has burned 3,150 acres (1,275 hectares) and was 40% contained on Friday.

Image caption Hundreds of firefighters are trying to tackle three blazes currently burning in the state of Colorado

Tourist structures on either side of the Arkansas River have already been damaged and a prison in nearby Canon City was evacuated as a precaution.

Meanwhile a third blaze, sparked by lightning, was burning further north in Rocky Mountain National Park. No buildings were threatened and the blaze was 30% contained, said the National Park Service.

After doubling overnight on Wednesday, the Black Forest fire is holding at 25 sq miles (40 sq km), having burned 15,700 acres. The fire is 5% contained as of Friday morning.

About 13,000 more properties remained threatened, authorities said.

The two victims were caught in the flames as they tried to flee from their home in a heavily wooded area, County Sheriff Terry Maketa said.

"All evidence from the scene is they were planning on departing," he said. The victims were found in a garage of a Black Forest home.

"The car doors were open as if they were loading or grabbing last-minute things," Sheriff Maketa said.

Driven in all directions by hot, erratic winds, the blaze remained largely out of control. Sheriff Maketa said fire crews had battled it to a "draw" on Thursday.

"That was a victory today," he added. "Because we haven't had many draws lately."

On Thursday afternoon, police ordered new mandatory evacuations in the city's north.

"You are in immediate danger. Load your family and pets, and go now," the county sheriff's office said in a tweet.

Hundreds of firefighters are trying to tackle the blaze.

The Black Forest area is not far from Waldo Canyon, where a blaze last year burned 346 houses and killed two people.

"I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined we'd be dealing a year later with a very similar circumstance," Sheriff Maketa said.

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