BLACK FOREST, Colo. - Black Forest Fire evacuees try to balance patience and understanding with anxiety and frustration about taking so long to return to their homes.
At Tuesday's daily fire briefing, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said he understands how eager evacuees are to return -- even those whose homes were destroyed in the fire.
"I'm trying to make that happen as soon as possible," he said. "But bear in mind that some areas still are not safe, and won't be for awhile."
Maketa allowed more evacuees to return Tuesday afternoon and evening. The Cathedral Pines subdivision reopened at 2 p.m., with the area returning to pre-evacuation status -- a sign that a fire risk remains.
Residents along Shoup Road were allowed to temporarily return between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Authorities manned several checkpoints, verified identifications and addresses, and gave returning residents red markers to register them as evacuees who belong in the area.
Bill Yeager, a Black Forest resident, said he hasn't seen his home since he took a brief visit there Friday to get medicine.
"It was still smoldering then," he said. "I lost my barn. Until I see it for myself again, I really don't know for sure how my house is. It's tough and frustrating, but I understand there still are hot spots in there. We've got to consider that."
Earlier on Tuesday, around 11 a.m., a line of vehicles waited at the intersection of Vollmer and Burgess roads to be escorted back to neighborhoods by authorities.
Maketa said there have been six burglary cases reported in the fire zone, but the gradual return of evacuees should reduce further break-ins.
"I was very impressed by how tight security is," said Rich Harvey, incident commander for the fire. "We saw a flashlight (beam) moving around in a residence Monday night. We reported it, and seven cop cars were there in a flash."
Harvey said it turns out the light was from a TV set that had been left on.