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More residents under mandatory evacuation orders due to the Black Forest Fire were able to return home today and Incident Commander Rich Harvey declared the blaze 75% contained. As KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports, even as thousands return home, the number of burglaries reported remains at four.
Officials have continuously stressed that law enforcement is patrolling evacuated neighborhoods, and District Attorney Dan May says the incidents are isolated.
“As people go back in, they may find damage on their home. Most likely we’re finding that damage is probably a first responder who’s going into the home to make it safe from the fire itself.”
But for those few that aren’t as a result of these safety measures, May says he won’t treat the cases lightly.
“What we’ve found in the past is this is considered an aggravated circumstance. These are our neighbors and friends who have been victimized already by a horrible disaster. And then to be re-victimized by someone going in to put their greed ahead of the loss of the people in this community, the judges are finding that as great aggravation and are sentencing appropriately.”
Several looters during last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire were recently given lengthy prison sentences. Returning homeowners who notice unexpected damages should contact El Paso County Dispatch at 719-390-5555. Officials expect to downgrade more evacuation areas this evening.