Colorado wildfire that burned 23 homes was human-caused |

Colorado wildfire that burned 23 homes was human-caused

A fire that destroyed 23 homes in southern Colorado was human-caused, according to investigators.

El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said he thinks the blaze could have been started by a discarded cigarette or a spark thrown by a passing vehicle. Lightning has been ruled out as a cause.

The fire was reported near Interstate 25 in southern El Paso County on Tuesday and was fueled by gusty winds for two days before firefighters were able to fully contain it Thursday, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. It has burned more than 65 square miles (168 square kilometers).

Rain and snow Friday and Saturday helped douse remaining hot spots near containment lines.

Firefighters will continue to patrol and monitor the burn scar and are warning residents that hazards could still exist. White ash on the ground can indicate deep pockets where roots and ground vegetation are still burning. Standing dead trees could also fall, especially in high winds or when loaded with snow.

Residents are also being told to avoid breathing smoke directly from smoldering areas, especially from piles that may contain plastics or other toxic materials.

Investigators have not determined if the fire was started accidentally or deliberately.

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