Raging Colo. wildfire: Paradise threatened

(CBS News) BELLVUE, Colo. - The massive wildfire in northern Colorado, already one of the largest in the state's history, continues to burn out of control.

It's killed one person, charred some 54,000 acres, forced thousands of residents to evacuate, and burned 112 homes to the ground.

That number is expected to grow, reports Rick Sallinger of CBS Denver station KCNC.

Like so many others, the Mushocks grabbed what they deemed important in their lives and prepared to get out before the flames could arrive at their door.

"We decided we'd better get the rest if our stuff out. It looks like... sounds like a war zone out there with the choppers and whatnot, pulling the water right out of the farm right near us," says John Mushock.

The blaze jumped a river, forcing the evacuation of dozens of additional families who had hoped they could sit out the fire in their homes. "A lot of families are struggling with this news as we speak," says Nick Christensen of the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.

A group of evacuees watched from a mountainside as helicopters scooped up water, the ammunition needed to protect their mountains homes.

"Fire is always inevitable," observes evacuee Gale Garringer. "It's just a matter of time. I always tell people it's not if it's gonna happen, it's when it's gonna happen."

National Guard checkpoints have been posted outside evacuated neighborhoods for protection. But they're also frustrating many residents who want to get back in to find out if their homes are still standing.

And this parched year it is happening very often. For those who call the mountains of northern Colorado home, it is now a paradise threatened.