COLORADO SPRINGS - El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says his department is investigating the deaths of two people who were killed in the Black Forest Fire as a homicide.
"Obviously, we discovered the two bodies [on Thursday,] and we will treat it as a crime scene and investigate it that way until we prove otherwise," Maketa told KARE 11 sister station KUSA in an exclusive interview.
Maketa said arson investigators have a lot of information coming in and are on scene gathering evidence.
"We have people wanting to provide photos of where the original smoke was located, and so we want to make sure we have everything in place to start sorting through that data and forwarding what's really necessary right directly to the investigators. So, they can follow up on it and salvage or save whatever evidence is provided to us," Maketa said.
Maketa said investigating this fire has been a "mixed bag of emotions."
"We were able to locate the original two people we had as missing persons, and there's almost a celebration that we found them," Maketa said. "They were alive and well. Then, within a short period of time later, we got another missing persons report and that one didn't have the same outcome. So, that really did provide a damper over the many successes we say [Thursday.]"
Maketa says he got a chance to talk to the fire responders on Thursday.
"Their spirits are really high, and we are doing good," Maketa said. "When it came down to it, we felt like we held the lines on the fire. That gave us an opportunity to really get in and focus on structure protection, and we cut the number of losses significant. I'm not even sure we had any fire losses [Thursday] night, if any, maybe one or two."
Fire officials say the wildfire is worse than last year's blaze that killed two people and burned 347 homes. This year's fire has destroyed at least 360 homes.
The two people found dead were among some 39,000 people given orders to leave the area and part of the city of Colorado Springs.
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