CONIFER, Colo. (CBS4/AP)– The wildfire burning in the mostly rural area southwest of Denver was 45 percent contained Thursday evening.

The Lower North Fork Fire has burned about six square miles. More than 500 firefighters continue to fight the blaze hoping to expand their containment line in case hot and windy weather returns this weekend.

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.

RELATED VIDEO: Lower North Fork Fire Thursday Afternoon News Conference

A team with dogs expanded its search for the missing woman after scouring 60 acres around her home.

Two planes that drop fire retardant were diverted to a fire in South Dakota, but four Black Hawk helicopters from the Colorado Air National Guard were still dropping water on the blaze.

The bodies of 77-year-old Sam Lamar Lucas and 76-year-old Linda M. Lucas — known by some of her friends as Moaneti Lucas — were found at their home, which was destroyed by flames.

The Forest Service said protocols were followed for last week’s controlled burn, but that wind gusts caused the blaze to re-ignite.

  1. Sophia says:

    # The fire was apparently sparked by a state-prescribed burn that was stirred up by strong winds on Monday #

    So …. did they not check the weather before setting it on fire?
    How many of these fires are set by the State? What are the procedures before starting such a fire? Could there be another way … in statt of setting fire? Just thinking outloud.
    And how many of these fires go wrong …

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