COLORADO SPRINGS -- The roaring Waldo Canyon fire that exploded into west-side neighborhoods of Colorado Springs destroyed 346 homes -- making it the most destructive wildfire in state history. It also has claimed at least one life.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey announced late Thursday that human remains had been found in a burned home in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood. A second person is missing, he said. He said the body was found in the rubble at 2910 Rossmere St. No further details were released.
Residents of three dozen streets in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood were summoned to a meeting Thursday night at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. There, they learned with certainty which of their homes had survived and which had fallen in the unprecedented firestorm Tuesday afternoon and evening.
"This is going to be a tough evening, but we're going to get through it," Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said before the meeting. "This community is going to mount an unprecedented response to this. ... This community will surround them with love and encouragement, and we will move forward as a city."
At the meeting, people were gathered by street to receive the news.
"People finding out for the first time were in tears," Byron Largent said, but it was good to "see the way the street came together and supported each other."
Byron and his wife Rebekah, who lived on Majestic Drive, said they already
The Largents lost their home on the daughter Emma's first birthday.
"We got us out, our daughter out and our cat out," he said. "What else matters?"
Even as bad news was being spread, firefighters were ending a good day on the fire lines as cooler temperatures and even a squall of rain fell over the 16,750-acre fire.
Effective at 8 p.m., mandatory evacuation orders were lifted for some neighborhoods, but
Evacuee Alexandrea Hermes and her daughter Ava, 5, watch as smoke from the Waldo Canyon fire rises behind them Thursday while swimming in the pool at the hotel where they are staying. They were forced leave their home on the Air Force Academy base in Colorado Springs.
By evening, officials said, crews had 15 percent containment on the Waldo Canyon fire, which has been burning west of the city since Saturday.
Colorado Springs police officials said 10 people remain unaccounted for since Tuesday's blow-up, and authorities were trying to locate them through friends and family.
Police also said they expect some "property crimes" to have occurred at some homes that have been empty because of mandatory evacuations. Two people have been arrested on suspicion of burglary.
Frustration grew Thursday among residents who -- at that point -- had been out of their homes for days, some since the weekend.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Mountain Shadows resident David Dougherty waved a copy of the statewide evacuation policy and demanded that he be let in.
"You don't have the authority to keep me out of my house," Dougherty shouted to Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey, who calmly told the man that since Colorado Springs is a home-rule city, it does have the authority to supersede the state order.
The fickle nature of the flames -- which on some streets wiped out houses on either side of homes that remained standing -- was illustrated by the experience of another resident.
Lynn Becka and her husband had been evacuated and came to the afternoon meeting seeking answers. They
"We lost everything three years ago, and the thought of going through that again was unbearable," she said.
Three years ago, the family lost most of their possessions when mounting bills for their son's medical treatments prevented them from paying rent on a storage unit in Illinois.
"We lived pretty much without furniture for a year and a half," she said. "We just started buying furniture this past year."
Just two days before the Waldo Canyon fire roared into their neighborhood, the family was putting together pots, pans and other items to give to a family who had lost their home in a different wildfire.
Bach said he doesn't agree with former Gov. Bill Owens that President Barack Obama's visit Friday will be a distraction and is "ill-advised."
Bach said he welcomes Obama and said city officials have told the White House that the city won't be able to offer resources to provide security for the president's visit. "I really appreciate the president coming here ... "And I do plan to ask for cash."
Staff writers Sara Burnett, Kurtis Lee, Jordan Steffen and Erin Udell contributed to this report.
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