Black Forest Fire: Colorado Residents Flee As Massive Blaze Scorches Earth, Consumes Homes [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on June 13, 2013 10:53 AM EDT

black forest fire colorado
A wildfire rages on in Black Forest, Colo. June 12, 2013. Fire crews battled a wind-whipped wildfire on Wednesday that burned at least 92 homes near Colorado Springs, while another blaze, the Royal Gorge Fire, shut down one of the state's top tourist attractions and forced the evacuation of more than 900 inmates from a prison. (Photo: Reuters)
black forest fire colorado
A resident takes a picture of the Black Forest fire, Colo. on June 12, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

The Black Forest fire in Colorado had residents retreating from their homes, some with only the clothes on their backs, as the massive blaze scorched the surrounding pine forests and destroyed residences. The Denver Channel reports that by Wednesday afternoon, the fire had swallowed between 80 and 100 homes (one source reported that 92 homes were deemed "destroyed" as of noon that day) and consumed more than 8,500 acres -- and there's no end to the Black Forest fire's destruction in sight.

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Some 5,000 residents (the Los Angeles Times reports more, around 9,500) have had to flee their homes as the Black Forest fire ripped through the Black Forest region, an area of dense pine trees about 13 miles northeast of Colorado Springs, Colo., that has a population of just over 13,100 people. The forest is about 130 square miles in size, with around 4,600 homes, approximately 36 per square mile, within the Black Forest area border.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning - meaning there's a high fire danger and increased probability of the fire spreading - earlier today, beginning at 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., for the Black Forest fire that was first reported a little after 1 p.m. Tuesday.

It reads:

RED FLAG WARNING FOR THE PALMER DIVIDE...HIGH MOUNTAIN VALLEYS AND SOUTHERN FRONT RANGE FOOTHILLS NOON UNTIL 9 PM THURSDAY FOR GUSTY WINDS...LOW HUMIDITIES...AND POSSIBLE DRY LIGHTNING...

SOUTHWEST FLOW ALOFT WILL INCREASE ON THURSDAY WITH A PASSING WEAK DISTURBANCE TO THE NORTH. THIS DISTURBANCE WILL ALSO BRING POTENTIAL FOR THUNDERSTORMS WITH LITTLE IF ANY RAIN BUT GUSTY WINDS AND POSSIBLE NEW FIRE STARTS. IN ADDITION GUSTY WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITIES WILL CONTINUE AS WELL.

Temperatures in the area are projected to increase drastically as the day goes on.

The Denver Post reports that nearly 500 firefighters were dispatched to battle the Black Forest fire. Helicopters and air tankers circled overhead, depositing slurry, a fire retardant made of salts found in fertilizers, over Black Forest. National Guard, Air Force and Army units also joined the front line of attack against the blaze.

Still, some residents are choosing to stick around and help keep the advancing fire at bay.

"My thoughts was that I cannot very well walk away from everything we own without at least trying to do anything about it," one resident told The Denver Post. "I know these (fire crews) are doing their best, but I am going to do my best, too."

What makes the Black Forest fire so destructive is the combination of strong winds whipping and spreading the fire into frenzy, scorching temperatures and an abundance of fuel to burn through. Even people 65 miles away in suburban Denver were reporting stinging eyes and scratchy throats.

Here is raw footage of the devastating Black Forest fire in Colorado. The videos, uploaded to YouTube by users waynelaugesen and Jace Larson, show the blaze as it approaches homes, roads and other infrastructure.

At the same time that the Black Forest fire tears through the area near Colorado Springs, the Royal Gorge Fire near Canon City, Colo., continues to burn through about 3,800 acres of land. It is currently about 20 percent contained.

Both fires erupted on Tuesday, June 11.

Read more from iScience Times:

Colorado Fires Force 2,000+ Home Evacuation: 4,000 Acre Royal Gorge Blaze Is 'Zero Percent Contained' [PHOTOS, VIDEO & REPORT]

3,000 Evacuated As Calif. Wildfire Rages On: Can Los Angeles Fire Be Contained?

California Wildfires: How Is NASA Using Satellites to Fight Fires From Outer Space?

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