Long-feared Colo. wildfire may take weeks to control

Smoke billows from a wildfire burning west of Fort Collins
Smoke billows from a wildfire burning west of Fort Collins, Colo., on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. The fire which started on Saturday has burned more than 40,000 acres and one person is dead as it continues to burn out of control.
AP Photo/The Coloradoan, V. Richard Haro

(CBS News) BELLVUE, Colo. - There's no end in sight for firefighters battling the giant wildfire that's been charring northern Colorado for nearly a week.

On Wednesday, officials told another 1,000 residents to get ready to evacuate at any moment.

The High Park fire is now the third-largest in Colorado history, having burned nearly 47,000 acres. It's about 10 percent contained, but still growing,

That's despite the efforts of more than 1,000 firefighting personnel in the air and on the ground, reports Rick Sallinger of CBS Denver station KCNC-TV. Hundreds of residents remain forced from their homes.

It's expected to take weeks to surround the fire, months to put it out, in a disaster officials have been predicting for years.

"We are still working out the details, but our team is looking at lifting evacuations in a couple of areas to get residents back into their homes where it's safe to do so," says Nick Christensen, of the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.

Some evacuees, such as Lou DeAngelis, say they're frustrated with a lack of information from fire officials.

"They couldn't tell me my address, if the house, my place where my whole life is right now, was gone or not," he lamented.

Colorado has long been concerned about fires like these.

For at least five years, the state has been battling a pine beetle infestation that's killing off trees, leaving them dry as kindling.

Officials confirm this blaze was started by a lightning strike - a single moment resulting in at least one death, the loss of dozens of homes, and tens of thousands of acres of devastation.

Wednesday night, firefighters set tremendous backfires in the beetle kill areas, sending a cloud of black smoke into the sky.

To see Rick Sallinger's report, click on the video in the player above.