COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The most destructive fire in Colorado's history claimed its first life Thursday, with a body found inside a razed Colorado Springs home.
The grim news came as the Denver Post reported that a second person was missing after the Waldo Canyon fire swept through Colorado Springs -- south of Denver -- destroying 346 homes, according to the city mayor Steve Bach.
The fire -- which started June 23 -- has burnt 16,750 acres and was still 85 percent out of control late Thursday, while the High Park fire near Fort Collins has burned 87,284 acres and itself briefly become the state's most destructive earlier in the week, with more than 250 homes burnt, but is now 75 percent contained.
Other fires in the state have burnt more than 50 other houses.
More than 32,000 people remained evacuated Thursday night, though some who still had a house to return to were allowed to go home.
"All over the city people have taken in strangers and friends of friends of friends," Bach said. "Everywhere we turn, people are helping people."
On the downside, two people were arrested for robbing homes in areas where evacuations had been ordered.
Fire crews made inroads Thursday, assisted by lower temperatures, higher humidity and some precious rainfall.
"We made significant progress on the ground today," US Forest Service supervisor Jerri Marr told reporters.
About 3,000 firefighters are still fighting blazes across the center of the state, with trucks, earth moving machinery, helicopters and planes involved in the effort.
Early Friday, as he prepared to tour the state later in the day, US President Barack Obama declared a "major disaster" in Colorado, issuing the declaration to release federal disaster assistance for state and local authorities.