So far, the blaze, now 45 percent contained, has damaged or destroyed nearly 350 homes.
It was just one of several still burning in the West, where parched conditions and searing heat contributed to the woes facing crews on hundreds of square miles across Utah, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.
In Colorado Springs, a line of cars a mile long queued up at a middle school checkpoint, where police checked the identification of returning residents and handed them water bottles.
While searching for her great-grandmother's cast-iron skillets, Moore marveled at the juxtaposition of what burned and what hadn't. The bowling balls had been garden decorations.
"To find my mail in my mailbox, unscathed. It's just unreal. Unreal," she said. "Bird baths are fine. Some of the foliage is fine."
Three neighbors' homes were unscathed. Only concrete remained of other homes, including hers. Cars were burned to nothing but charred metal.
"Good Lord! I've never seen anything like this. And thank God there was nobody there. Thank God there were no people here. There would have been no been no hope," Moore said.
Not far away, Bill Simmons and his wife, Debbie Byes, returned to their tri-level, passive-solar, stucco home and found no damage - just some ashes in the driveway.
"The water and electric's back on. You know, we're good to go. We're feeling pretty happy about it at the moment," Simmons said by phone. "We're feeling pretty sad for our neighbors and pretty lucky for ourselves. It's been a real sobering experience."
Authorities said they would lift more evacuation orders Sunday night, bringing the total number of people who remain blocked from their homes down to 3,000 from more than 30,000 at the peak of the fire.
Rich Harvey, incident commander for Waldo Canyon, said crews continue to make good progress.
"We're cautiously optimistic," he said Sunday morning. "We still remain focused on things that could go wrong."
Authorities are still trying to determine the cause of the fire, which so far has cost $8.8 million to battle. Dangerous conditions had kept them from beginning their inquiry, but investigators were able to start their work on Saturday.
More than 150 National Guard soldiers and airmen helped Colorado Springs police staff roadblocks and patrol streets.