Nightly News   |  June 19, 2013

Colorado residents return to charred neighborhoods

The Black Forest fire destroyed more than 500 homes in Colorado Springs and scorched 14,000 acres. Now, another fire near Prescott, Ariz., has resulted in hundreds of evacuations. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> now to the growing air war in the american west . crews battling to contain wildfires, exploding in half a dozen states, all of it happening as people who were evacuated during the most devastating fire in the history of the state of colorado are being allowed to return to their homes for the first time to see what if anything is left. we get our reports tonight from gabe gutted gutierrez.

>> reporter: almost 500 homes evacuated near prescott, arizona, after winds push flames in just hours. firefighters rushing in to contain what authorities are called a man-made fire that's growing fast.

>> last night when i was out, engaged right in people's back yards.

>> reporter: fires raging in utah, new mexico, colorado , and oregon. and one threatened a main route into yosemite national park . it could be the worst fire season in 100 years.

>> we'll find something.

>> for heather dubois in colorado , the worse is already here.

>> my family is really close, so it's important. it's kind of sad.

>> reporter: we met heather last week when she evacuated her trailer. she took this cell phone video of the terrifying escape. today, she and her mother are thankful her barn and animals were spared. this was her late grandmother's vase.

>> these are the things that are hard.

>> reporter: neighborhoods in colorado springs were devastated by the black forest fire. more than 500 homes destroys, and 14,000 acres scorched.

>> when i pulled up, the deck was on fire.

>> reporter: plumber tim jones has lived in the area 52 years. he lost his workshop and all his tools, but his house is still standing.

>> i'll stick it out. i'm not going anywhere. this is home.

>> amazing what the heat did to the center i-beam through there.

>> reporter: firefighters preparing for windy, hot, and dry conditions expected throughout the week. another test with little rest, in what's becoming an historic fire season. this colorado fire 85% contained. authorities have identified the couple trying to escape the flames. long-time members of the air force base command. brian.

>> terrible scene in a beautiful spot. gabe gutierrez in colorado springs .