DENVER/LOS ANGELES, June 18 (Reuters) - The number of homes destroyed by a Colorado wildfire rose above 500 on Tuesday as rain dampened the flames and allowed damage assessment teams to enter charred neighborhoods, as another threatening blaze grew in California.
Authorities said the so-called Black Forest Fire, which has killed at least two people and has burned in the rolling hills outside Colorado Springs for the past week, was 85 percent contained by Tuesday.
The most destructive fire in Colorado’s history has charred 22 square miles (57 square km), destroyed 502 homes, and underscored concerns that prolonged drought conditions in the U.S. West could intensify this year’s fire season.
Fire incident commander Rich Harvey of the U.S. Forest Service told reporters rain, which fell over the burn area, had allowed crews to carve containment lines around all but one section of the blaze.
“It is anticipated we will identify additional homes considered to be a total loss,” El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said.
Investigators have pinpointed the area where they believe the fire started, but have not determined a cause, Maketa said, adding a U.S. Forest Service fire expert had arrived to take a fresh look at the site.
Some 2,600 people remain under evacuation orders, down from last week’s peak of about 38,000 individuals.
Meanwhile in California a wildfire, believed to have spread from an unattended campfire on Sunday, threatened about 800 homes on Tuesday near Yosemite National Park, prompting evacuations, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
There was no immediate word on precisely how many people had been evacuated because of the 1,600-acre (647 hectare) Carstens Fire in Northern California, which erupted near a state route leading to Yosemite National Park, Cal Fire said on its website.
The fire was 15 percent contained on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said. A Cal Fire representative was not immediately available for comment. (Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Leslie Gevirtz)