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Colorado wildfire: 2 dead, 900 evacuated in Jefferson County blaze (VIDEO)

The fire spread to nearly 5 square miles within a matter of hours, spurred by high wind gusts and dry conditions.

Colorado wildfire 2012 03 27Enlarge
A 3,000-acre wildfire has killed at least one person, destroyed five homes and forced the evacuation of 900 people southwest of Denver. AFP PHOTO/ JOSEP LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images) (JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

At least two people are dead and 16 homes destroyed by a fast-moving wildfire that on Tuesday forced the evacuation of 900 people southwest of Denver.

A third person was missing from the same area where the man and woman were found, according to the Associated Press. Residents of another 6,500 houses are being told to be ready to evacuate on Tuesday.

The blaze spread to nearly 5 square miles within a matter of hours, spurred by high wind gusts that prevented air crews from helping firefighters on Monday. Forecasters said gusts were expected to be lighter on Tuesday, though a period of stronger winds was expected in the afternoon, The Associated Press reported.

One person was found dead in the fire zone Monday. Their name was not released, and officials were awaiting an autopsy to give an official cause of death, the Denver Posted reported.

A second fire victim was discovered Tuesday nearby, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office told CNN.

The fire has destroyed 15 to 25 structures in Jefferson County, at least five of which were homes, authorities told the AP.

Authorities ordered 450 firefighters to the scene Tuesday. They have also asked for air support, but that hangs in the balance as winds are expected to gust at 30 to 40 mph in the afternoon, CNN reported.

Some evacuees spent Monday night at a shelter set up at Conifer High School, while others chose to sleep in their vehicles in the school's parking lot to be with their pets, the Denver Post reported.

"We're waking up to the fact that we might lose our house," Tim White told the newspaper Tuesday morning. "We're not really sure what to expect."

The fire was sparked by a controlled burn conducted by state forest officialslast week to reduce fire danger, the AP reported.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120327/colorado-wildfire-2-dead-900-evacuated-jefferson-county