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Hickenlooper: Devastation From Flames ‘Sobering’

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Gov. John Hickenlooper meets with evacuees from the Lower North Fork Fire on Thursday afternoon. (credit: CBS)

Gov. John Hickenlooper meets with evacuees from the Lower North Fork Fire on Thursday afternoon. (credit: CBS)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

CONIFER, Colo. (CBS4)- Gov. John Hickenlooper toured the devastation from the Lower North Fork Fire from a helicopter on Thursday. He said it is ‘sobering.’

Hickenlooper also met with those who have been forced from their homes.

“Flying over that and seeing firsthand the level of loss. I mean there’s nothing left. Just foundations in many cases,” said Hickelooper.

The Colorado National Guard gave the governor an aerial view of what charred remains the wildfire left in its path.

The Lower North Fork Fire has burned about six square miles. More than 650 firefighters continued to fight the blaze Thursday evening, hoping to expand their containment line in case hot and windy weather returns this weekend.

“Certainly it was very reassuring to see there was not smoke coming from a large number of places. We didn’t see any open flame there’s a lot of personnel on the ground directing the helicopter to where it’s going to do the most good,” said Hickelooper.

The fire was apparently sparked by a state-prescribed burn that was stirred up by strong winds on Monday. Since then, 27 homes have been damaged or destroyed, an elderly couple was found dead at one of the homes and a woman whose house was destroyed remains missing.

Hickenlooper also stopped by the Red Cross Shelter to speak with evacuees and some of the 27 families whose homes have been destroyed or damaged by the fire.

“I was impressed that their spirits were fairly up beat given all that they’ve been through,” said Hickenlooper.

RELATED VIDEO: Watch Gov. Hickenlooper’s News Conference After His Aerial Tour Of The Lower North Fork Fire

He said he doesn’t believe the state should take a larger role in rectifying the wrong done to the homeowners.

This week he did put a stop to prescribed burns and said the state is looking at new operating procedures, “I’m not going to take three months but I would like to take several weeks and try to get all the information and look at what other states have done, there there a way we can improve.”

Hickenlooper said the burden of protection from future wildfires will fall on homeowners. He also wants the state to put a stronger emphasis on defensible space.

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