At least 400 homes destroyed in Colorado wildfire

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The number of homes destroyed  in the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history has risen to 400, officials said Friday night.

However, some residents of the thickly wooded rural region north of Colorado Springs known as the Black Forest were allowed to return to their homes late Friday as some mandatory evacuation orders were lifted, KDVR reported.

A thunderstorm passed over the fire zone Friday afternoon, bringing a welcome rain.

Incident Commander Rich Harvey said the Black Forest Fire is now 30 percent contained. It was only five  percent contained Thursday.

At least two people died in the blaze that began Tuesday afternoon. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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The fire growth has leveled off, with the burn area estimated at between 13,000 and 15,000 acres, KDVR said.

El Paso County Sheriff Tony Maketa told a Friday morning press conference, “we did not lose large chunks of land (Thursday) night.”

When the Black Forest began to burn, authorities swiftly evacuated tens of thousands of people from an area larger than the Denver metropolitan area.

Developers describe the Black Forest as the largest contiguous stretch of ponderosa pine in the United States. Once home to rural towns and summer cabins, it is now dotted with million-dollar homes and gated communities as a result of the state's population boom over the past two decades.

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The Associated Press also contributed to this report