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Point of origin found for Waldo Canyon Fire

By KRDO.com Staff
Published On: Jun 23 2012 07:08:25 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 05 2012 12:12:04 PM CDT
Fire near Waldo Canyon
EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. -

Firefighters are continuing to battle what's being called the worst fire in Colorado history.

The Waldo Canyon Fire has destroyed 346 homes and damaged more than two dozen others.

Two people have been confirmed dead and both were found in the same home at 2910 Rossmere St.

The fire is 90% contained as of Thursday morning.  It has scorched more than 18,247 acres since June 23.  Fire crews estimate that the fire will be contained by Friday, July 6th.

The cause of the fire remains unknown, but an investigative team says it has found the spot where the fire started.  Investigators are seeking the public's help for possible leads to the exact cause of the Waldo Canyon Fire. U.S. Forest Service Investigators are looking for people who were in the Waldo Canyon area at or around time of ignition and may have seen something that will help the investigators.  If you were in the Waldo Canyon or Pyramid Mountain area on Friday or Saturday, June 22-23, please call 719-477-4205 and leave your name, contact number and someone will return your call. Investigators are hoping that with the public's help, they can determine the cause of the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Firefighters are aided by helicopters, air tankers and military planes dropping water and retardant.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey said 24 burglaries have been confirmed in the area affected by the fire. The National Guard has now deployed 160 people to help patrol the area.

The fire has threatened thousands of homes and scores of businesses. It forced the evacuation of more than 36,000 people, most last Tuesday when strong winds whipped the blaze into a firestorm that spewed ash and smoke. Officials said Sunday afternoon that number is now down to 3,000 people. Incident leaders said it may take 4 to 6 four to six weeks before those evacuees in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood will be allowed to return home if their house is still standing because of heavy damage to utilities in the area.

So far the cost of the blaze is estimated to be $11.1 million dollars. President Barack Obama declared Colorado a disaster area to allow federal dollars to help fight the Waldo Canyon Fire as well the High Park Fire.

Mandatory evacuations are still in effect for parts of the Mountain Shadows neighborhood. Woodland Park, Cascade, Chipita Park, Crystola, Cedar Heights and Green Mountain Falls remain under pre-evacuation status. Highway 24 reopened Sunday afternoon. Officials say they have reduced the speed limit. Also they want you to know that firefighters are still working near Highway 24, so please drive with caution.

The El Paso County Health Department also announced an "unhealthy" air quality status. People with chronic lung problems or cardiac problems should remain inside and avoid exercising outdoors.

A call center has been established to answer non-emergency questions regarding the Waldo Canyon fire 719-955-0742.

Stay with KRDO.com and NewsChannel 13 for the latest updates.

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