One dead in Colorado's most destructive wildfire

(CBS News) COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Police in Colorado Springs say one person has died in the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history.

The body was found in a home that burned in the fire.

Nearly 350 homes have now been destroyed in Colorado Springs, leaving many residents helpless as the raging fire continues to spread.

John Sawyer came home from vacation in Atlanta, only to move into a hotel. He and his family have been out of their home since Tuesday.

"It's a lot of stress, and it's hard to sleep well, and you're not in your own house and your family's not all together," Sawyer observed. " ... We're trying to do normal lives, but you can't."

Sawyer is one of 32,000 people evacuated as the fire spread.

How you can help Colo. fire victims

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach says 346 homes have burned in the fire, on 34 different streets in the community.

Sawyer's house is a half-mile from the fire line.

"How are thousands, or hundreds of families going to find places to live, continue their work?" he wonders. "How will the schools function? There's a lot of questions ahead."

Many of those families attended a meeting Thursday night where officials tried to answer some of those questions.

Firefighters were helped Thursday by good weather and calm winds.

But the blaze was still just 10 percent contained.

Incident Commander Rich Harney described the fire as, "obnoxious. I would say it has an obnoxious personality, and I don't like it.

"The first day, this fire ran south; the second day it ran north; the third day this fire ran east. That's really unusual and very difficult to deal with."

The Army put its soldiers to work building a fire break, as helicopters conducted water drops overhead.

"We're the second line of defense, and we're trying to make sure that, if the fire does get any further, that we're able to stop it in its tracks," says Lt. Col. Dan Hibner, of Colorado's Fort Carson. "So that's what we've done. We've put in about 13 kilometers of fire break (Thursday)."

They have Sawyer's thanks. "I appreciate to no end all the efforts they're making to save our homes," he says.

The weather was expected to cooperate again Friday, with lighter winds and cooler temperatures.

To see Anna Werner's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Anna Werner

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