TODAY

TODAY   |  June 14, 2013

Colo. wildfire kills two, only 5 percent contained

The Black Forest Fire raging in Colorado is now the state’s most destructive wildfire ever. At least 360 homes have been destroyed so far and two people have been killed. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports and El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa discusses the attempts to contain the blaze.

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>>> meanwhile, in colorado even more homes destroyed overnight by the massive and out of control wild fire still going on right now and officials say it's quickly becoming the most destructive in that state's history. miguel is in colorado springs . good morning.

>> reporter: the black forest fire, a historic fire claimed hundreds of homes and two lives. it's only 5% contained and shows no sign of slowing down. a rare view from the front lines of colorado 's deadly and most destructive wild fire in state history. 379 homes destroyed in county and at least two people are dead.

>> it appears as though the individual were in the garage. the car doors were open as though they were loading or grabbing last minute things and all indications are from the evidence on scene that they were planning to depart very quickly.

>> reporter: with 13,000 homes still threatened today the governor declared a disaster.

>> give me some water.

>> reporter: the battle for containment is part military assault. the national guard and air force backing up firefighters on the ground and from above. the air attack in fire fights like this one is critical but for this home, it's going to be too late. on thursday a steady stream of water drop with the burn zone spanning 25 square miles , this morning nearly 40,000 people are evacuated. most left to wait and wonder.

>> it looked like our neighborhood was already on fire, but we really don't know anything.

>> reporter: a historic and deadly fire still on the move, still threatening homes and lives. firefighters say they are making progress but may need the help of mother nature to turn the corner. unfortunately, more winds are in the forecast.

>> all right. miguel, thanks. of course that fire is only one of several burning across the state of colorado this morning. terry is the sheriff of el paso county colorado . good morning to you.

>> good morning matt.

>> it's the loss of life that's so tragic. the two people found in their garage. i heard reports they were on the phone to friends saying they were about to leave and the friends could hear the sound of popping and crackling in the background. is the tragic lesson here that people may be waiting too long to get out of arms way.

>> well, you know, i think it's a combination of people waiting just a little too long and underestimating the speed at which a fire can move on them. we had a report at 4:20 they were on the phone with another friend. they said they could see a glow to the west and here we are 40 minutes later and another caller says they could hear crackling and background noise and they claim they were leaving at that moment.

>> you now have two fatalitities. is it fair to say the investigation is now a homicide investigation.

>> obviously with the two deaths that's how we will be pursuing it and how we're looking at it and treating every aspect of the investigation.

>> i was looking at what you had in terms of resources. 750 people on the ground in round the clock shifts. is this the situation where the more people you have the better chance you have to control it or are these people simply no match for mother nature ?

>> well, mother nature challenged us the last couple of days. today is supposed to be another windy day and having the bodies will certainly be an asset. it's two fronts fighting the fire. number one is the containment and stopping the growth and number two is actually within the actual fire and offering the structure protection and being able to move quickly to each residence because it's spotty and jumping around and we're talking about a fairly large area.

>> all right. i know your folks have your hands full today. i appreciate you taking time with us this morning.

>> you're welcome. thanks for having me.