Firefighters' Homes Among Those Destroyed in Colorado Blaze

Authorities: 1,000 homes evacuated in blaze stretching 3,500 acres.

Sept. 7, 2010 — -- Seven air tankers are expected to drop as many as 60,000 gallons of fire retardant to help stifle a raging wildfire that has continued to rip through a Colorado canyon.

The blaze, which has grown to 11 square miles, already has forced the evacuation of 1,000 homes, including those of firefighters who were actively fighting the blaze.

At least nine firefighters' homes were destroyed, according to authorities, and it is estimated that about 3,500 residents have been affected by the flames, most of which were powered by 45 mph winds Monday.

"It is important for people evacuated to be patient," said Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter. "This is a volatile situation."

But it is a situation that resident Bart Costello would like more information about. After trying to get close enough to find out for himself, Costello found nothing but roadblocks in his way.

"It does not look like my house is on fire," Costello said. "I can see smoke behind it, but [it] looks like it's the next ridge back."

Dozens of homes already have been destroyed by the fire, which may have started when a propane tank exploded after being hit by a car.

Rick Brough, commander of the Boulder County Sheriff's office, told reporters today that no injuries or deaths have been reported, though officials are continuing to take precautions to keep residents safe.

"Today's objective for the firefighting is they're providing for the public," Brough said, adding that the fire has been contained within eight surrounding areas.

"They're going to implement structure and point protection," Brough said. "So, basically, what they're trying to do is protect residences that ... are threatened, at this point."

Some residents said they only knew to evacuate when the flames were visibly close. Apparently, Colorado's "reverse 911" system, which is designed to warn people to get out in case of an emergency, went down for two hours, Brough said.

Because of powerful winds, air tankers and choppers were grounded Monday, leaving the firefighters to take on the blaze in all-terrain vehicles. However, Brough said with winds predicted to remain around 6 mph today, they expected to get nine aircrafts up, seven of which would disperse retardant.

"Two of those aircrafts, they use them for spotting and attack," Brough said. "Basically, one flies in front of the tanker to basically get them to drop at the place they want to."

Cause Still Unknown

The initial 3,500-acre blaze started Monday morning in Four Mile Canyon, just north of Boulder.

On Monday, authorities reported a total of 100 firefighters and 35 engines were mobilized to battle the wildfire, with some of them having to move their equipment to avoid the fire's path.

For resident Anna Leuer, it was quite a path.

"We were trying to save our house, and I left because it was so close," Leuer said. "It was this huge wall of fire. It was the most amazing thing I ever heard."

ABC News' Sabrina Parise contributed to this report.