Just three days old, the Lower North Fork Fire near Denver has expanded to over 4,500 acres, destroyed 28 homes, and led to the pre-evacuation of 6,500 additional homes there. As of Wednesday morning, the blaze was zero percent contained despite the efforts of more than 400 firefighters on the ground supported by four aircraft dropping fire retardant.
So far the fire has claimed the lives of two people, identified by the Associated Press as Sam Lamar Lucas, 77, and Linda M. Lucas, 76. The deceased couple lived only 150 yards from a family that barely evacuated in time and captured their harrowing escape on a cell-phone camera.
(WATCH THE RAW VIDEO ABOVE; WATCH THE FAMILY TALK ABOUT THE HARROWING EXPERIENCE BELOW)
In a video obtained by KDVR, the Gulick family drives through billowing orange smoke, falling embers, and burning trees, having received a mandatory evacuation call just 15 minutes prior.
Childrens' scared crying can be heard in the background as Mr Gulick warily assures everyone "it's OK. We're out, we're out..."
"We went from perfect daylight to perfect darkness just driving through those trees," Doug Gulick told KDVR after the ordeal.
Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia signed an executive order Tuesday activating the National Guard to provide firefighting assistance to the area. Governor Hickenlooper was on a trade mission to Mexico.