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Colorado fire evacuees forced from their homes return to see damage

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Updated: 6/18/2013 4:02 pm
(NBC News) The deadly Black Forest Wildfire near Colorado Springs is now more than 80% contained and for the first time since the start of the blaze many families are getting the chance to return to some of the neighborhoods ravaged by the fire.

The charred remnants stretch for miles.

Burned out shells of homes more than 500 in the Colorado mountains, making the Black Forest Fire the most devastating in the history of the state.

"Every time i look at a foundation what i see is somebody losing every memory they ever created that they can never buy, replace or recapture," said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

After almost a full week of fighting the massive wildfire, some areas are now safe enough for families to return.
"It's a priority for us to get you in to see your property and that day has come," Maketa said.

For hundreds, there is little left to see.

As Carol Couch pushed past the barricades she learned she was one of the few in her neighborhood with something to come home to.

"My heart goes out to everybody who lost their homes. I can't imagine and you do feel a little guilty that you are elated happy that yours was saved," Couch said.

One of the most populated communities is still locked-down.

"I won't really be able to have closure until they let us go drive up to our house," said one evacuee.

Investigators say they want to preserve evidence in the area, that could be a crime scene as they search for the cause of the blaze.

-- Jay Gray, NBC News, reports



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