Crews gained the upper hand on the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history Saturday and had more than half the blaze contained as officials prepared to lift mandatory evacuation orders for hundreds of residents.

Incident commander Rich Harvey said at an evening news conference that containment of the Black Forest Fire was at 55 percent, up from 45 percent earlier Saturday.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said some residents along the north and west fronts of the initial evacuation zone were being allowed to return to their neighborhoods at 8 p.m. after authorities downgraded evacuation orders from mandatory to pre-evacuation status in specific areas.