The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

June 18, 2013

Investigators 'zeroing in' on Colo. wildfire start

(Continued)

No structures have been burned as the exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined, Berlant said.

In New Mexico, crews have contained the majority of the 94 square miles of wildfires raging throughout the state. The largest fire, the 37-square-mile Thompson Ridge Fire, was 80 percent contained.

Near Colorado Springs, there were no lightning strikes when the fire broke out last Tuesday amid record-breaking heat so it's believed the fire must have been caused by a person or a machine. Maketa said Monday that local, state and federal investigators are "zeroing in on the point of origin" of the fire and that should help allow residents of the areas hit hardest to temporarily return home. He said crews were working to bring in some heavy equipment to help that work.

He said residents could be temporarily allowed back Tuesday or Wednesday, promising authorities would work with whatever their needs were. He said he understood that some people might want to go back for just a short time as part of their grieving process while others might want to stay for several hours and start cleaning up.

Mike Turner surveyed the rubble of his mother's home Monday but had nothing but praise for firefighters who battled the erratic blaze in tinder box conditions.

"What I've seen from firefighters so far is an organized assault on insanity," he said, echoing the gratitude shared by many residents in rural, heavily wooded Black Forest.

The fire is only a few miles away from the state's second-most destructive wildfire, the Waldo Canyon Fire, which started nearly a year ago. The cause of that fire still hasn't been determined.

The memory of that fire might have made residents especially appreciative of firefighters. Large crowds have been turning out to line the road and cheer crews as they return from the lines. Incident commander Rich Harvey said that support has helped firefighters get through methodical but not very exciting mop up work needed to get residents back to their homes.

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