- Posted June 23, 2012 by
Colorado Springs, Colorado
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Colorado Springs Wild Fire Covers 3,600 Acres, thousands flee as wildfire approaches the city
COLORADO SPRINGS BURNS TONIGHT. HOMES LOST. 32,000 ARE EVACUATED. ALL OF NW ARE EVACUATED. SOUTHBOUND I-25 CLOSED AT INTERQUEST.
The focus is on protecting structures and preventing the fire from spreading, not putting it out. The fire is within 1/4 mile of some structures.
Massive smoke cover is blanketing Colorado Springs, with ashes falling as far east as Powers and Academy. Visibility at this time is about 200 feet. (as of 7:09 pm on 6/24/12) (now clear)
If you are trying to check on family members, call the new Red Cross number: 719-650-913
Firefighters battling now 3,600-acre Waldo Canyon fire that erupted west of Colorado Springs on Saturday, a perfect storm of hot weather, rugged terrain and aggressive flames.
-All of Manitou Springs is evacuated, north and south of Manitou Avenue. (lifted as of 8.00 pm 6/24/12; all Manitou Springs residents are allowed to return home with the exception of Crystal Park)
-All residents west of 30th Street from Gateway, near Garden of the Gods park, north to Chuckwagon in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood.
-Cedar Heights, a gated community west of the Garden of the Gods.
-Green Mountain Falls
Latest Waldo Canyon fire stats:
- 5% Containment
- 3,600 Acres and Growing
- More than 400 firefighters (72 from Colorado Springs fire)
- More firefighters coming Sunday and Monday
-1600 Homes Evacuated, about 11,000 people
-The U.S. Forest Service is calling this a Type 1 incident, the highest level of incident command, signaling the fire’s complexity
TUESDAY 2/26/12 DAY 4 / US Mountain Time
2:40 p.m. More parks and trails are now closed: Pulpit Rock Park, Ute Valley Park, Section 16, and Stratton Open Space. Bear Creek Park is on Stage 2 fire restrictions. NO CHARCOAL grilling allowed, no smoking. Propane Grills are OK.
2:29 p.m. Scanner traffic has crews calling for bucket drops as fire erupts on west side of quarry.
2:18 p.m. Crews confirmed water main break under Chimney Rock Lane, a cul de sac atop Cedar Heights, the gated subdivision on the city's far western edge under mandatory evacuation. But Colorado Springs Utilities will not be allowed in to repair the break. Instead, fire crews planned to simply tape off the road so others avoid it because the water is undermining the road.
1:43 p.m. Pre-evacuation notices started spreading. In addition to neighborhoods in Woodland Park, pre-evacuation orders were issued for north Mountain Shadows and Peregrine neighborhoods. These areas are north of Chuckwagon Road, where a mandatory evacuation zone starts. The new pre-evacuation applies to areas west of Centennial up to to Orchard Valley Road, and northwest of Orchard Valley Road to Woodmen Road. There is no need to panic as this is not a mandatory or voluntary evacuation at this time. However residents are advised to take steps to prepare important documents, pets, valuables, evacuation kit, and medications.
12:46 p.m. Pre-evacuation orders went out in Teller County shortly after noon for part of Woodland Park. The order affects neighborhoods east of U.S. Highway 24 and Baldwin Street, which becomes Rampart Range Road and also is known as County Road 22. Neighborhoods affected include Country Ridge Estates, Forest Edge Estates, Forest Edge Park, Thunderbird Estates, Paradise Estates, Aspen Acres and Sunny Glen. This is not a mandatory evacuation but residents are urged to pack essential belongings and be prepared to evacuate. Sherl Decker, county administrator and PIO of the Sheriff for the Waldo Canyon Fire, said residents should monitor news media and offiical websites for more information.
11:42 a.m. Health officials urge anyone sensitive to smoke to stay indoors as air quality deteriorated Tuesday on Day 4 of the Waldo Canyon Fire. Jill Law, interim public health director for El Paso County Public Health, said that vulnerable populations include people who suffer from athsma, COPD, cardiac diseases and chronic lung diseases. "The conditions are worse today," she said. People should exercise indoors or avoid exercise if it does not feel OK. Law said that if it feels smoky inside of homes, people should breathe through damp washcloths. "We are trying to find inexpensive options," she said. With barely any air conditioners left to buy in the area, individuals must find ways to stay cool. Law urged people to drink lots of water and avoid sugary drinks and alcohol. Water will help hydrate mucus membranes, which will help supress clogged feelings in the throat and nose. The lungs aren't the only parts of the body to suffer in smoke. Eyes and skin also can become itchy. "Smoke is an irritant, so it causes almost an allergy-like reaction."
11:34 a.m. Evacuees are no longer being allowed into the Mountain Shadows neighborhood. Fire officials say fire behavior above the neighborhood is too erratic to allow civiliams into the area. Residents of the neighborhood had been permitted to make escorted visits to their homes to collect personal belongings.
3:45 a.m. A thick blanket of smoke is hanging over Colorado Springs from horizon to horizon this morning.
3:14 a.m. The Waldo Canyon fire is roaring back to full fury in Queens Canyon. Big flames visible downtown.
MONDAY 2/25/12 DAY 3 / US Mountain Time
8:25 a.m. The size of the Waldo Canyon fire is at 3,446 acres, fire officials said Monday morning, with still zero containment. No structures have been lost to the blaze.
"Today is going to be a tough day, tougher than yesterday," fire information officer Greg Heule said at a briefing, referring to high temperatures and no cloud cover, with the possibility of winds reaching 30 mph.
No new evacuation orders were issued; about 6,000 people remained evacuated. There are 450 firefighters on the scene.
Highway 24 remains closed, likely throughout the day Monday, from Cave of the Winds to the Teller County line.
"This is a time for our community to pull together, maybe like never before," Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said.
Smoke in the area remains a health risk. People with cardiac or respiratory issues are encouraged to stay indoors.
The cause of the fire, which erupted Saturday, remains unknown.
Community meetings are planned for 7 p.m. Monday at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs and Summit Elementary School in Divide.
9:52 a.m. In case you're wondering, the Incident Information System says the fire is being fueled by short-needle conifers "with heavy dead load," Western long needle pine with the same heavy dead load, and Gambrel Oak. "The fast rate of spread influenced with steep topography, dry fuels, southern exposure that is even drier, with up to 30-foot flame lengths.
10:10 a.m. Flames have erupted behind a home in Cedar Heights, according to reporter Ryan Marie Handy. Also, from Rich Laden: The Pikes Peak region could lose "millions of dollars" a day in hotel rooms, meals, tourism, etc, says a local economist.
SUNDAY 6/25/12 / US Mountain Time
9:40 p.m. (Reports of Breaking Barricades as people trying to get home) City and county officials are asking motorists to "respect all barricades and closures" for their own safety and the safety of first responders.
9:28 p.m. The Waldo Canyon Fire is now estimated at 3,600 acres -- and growing -- with zero containment.
8:41 p.m. The decision to lift the evacuation order for Manitou Springs was made by the Manitou Springs City Council and its fire chief, said the Rev. Dave Hunting, the fire department's chaplain and spokesman. The fire burned close to the city Saturday night, but it changed direction Sunday, he said. "The fuel has pretty well been burned off that caused all the problems last night," Hunting said. The city still has units on standby, said Hunting, who thanked the community for its patience. "It was just another example of this community pulling together in a real great way," he said.
8:18 p.m. The sun set with an eerily beautiful orange glow over the mountains. ( Mesa Road near Garden of the Gods)
8:11 p.m. Colorado Avenue is backed up north of 31st as Manitou residents head home. "Manitou feels like a ghost town -- cars are streaming through but every business is closed," Gazette reporter Maria St. Louis-Sanchez tweeted.
7:43 p.m. Residents are being advised to expect ashes and smoke to drift into the city of Colorado Springs this evening. The Colorado Springs Fire Department will monitor for any hot spots.
6:13 p.m. The Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado says it has collected 80,000 pounds of food.The group says it still needs snack item, canned meals and financial donations.
5:31 p.m.: Black Hills Energy has shut down gas to Cascade.
5:20 p.m.: El Paso County is under a Wildfire Health Smoke Advisory. People with respiratory or heart problems are advised to stay inside.
4:25 p.m. About 11,000 people in Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and El Paso County have been evacuated as a result of the Waldo Canyon Fire. Some people have refused to leave their homes, and they're being documented, Maketa said. The Colorado Springs Fire Department is asking residents to stay out of all parks to avoid another fire or rescue.
4:13 p.m. A Type 1 team, compared to the Navy Seal of firefighters, are taking over at 6 p.m. About 1,600 homes have been evacuated, or requested to be evacuated, in El Paso County. Nearly $300 million worth of property threatened by Waldo Canyon Fire, officials say."Conditions are changing every minute up on the hill," says Sheriff Terry Maketa.
4:12 p.m. Smoke, fire and planes should be in the air for possibly several days, officials say.
2:17 p.m. Residents have reported seeing panicked animals fleeing the Waldo Canyon Fire into the city since Saturday. But Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say these animals probably lived in town before the fire.
2:02 p.m. City and county confirm that disaster declarations have been signed.
"This is obviously something beyond the resources of any one agency. This declaration is the next step needed for an incident of this size," Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said in a statement. "I commend and thank everyone from all of the agencies helping and ask our citizens to please respect all closures and emergency messages being put out to allow everyone to do their jobs."
1:30 p.m. While the airborne Air Force is still gearing up for the fight, the ground pounding Air Force firefighters have joined the battle. Peterson Air Force Base reports that firefighters from the 21st and 721st Civil Engineer Squadrons are providing manning and fire truck support to Colorado Springs as local fire crews fight the Waldo Canyon fire.
1:20 p.m. (People start to panic as fire approaches): The King Soopers store at Fillmore and Centennial was packed this afternoon. Within the shadow of the the massive Waldo Park fire smoke plume, shoppers loaded up on the basics: cartlaods of bottled water, toilet paper and canned goods. The store sits just east of an evacuation area. While some packed their carts, others stood in a nearby parking lot and watched the black smoke rise to the west. We're also hearing that there are lines to get gas at some locations to the west of the evacuation area.
1:14 p.m. Sgt. Joe Roybal of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said they have had reports of flames approaching Highway 24 from the north in Cascade, but there are no reports of a structure on fire.
12:54 p.m. Those aerial firefighters from Peterson Air Force Base's 302nd Airlift Wing are joining the fight. This just in "PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.- The U.S. Forest Service has requested and U.S. Northern Command has approved the deployment and employment of four Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) C-130 aircraft to assist in wildfire suppression in Colorado and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions."
10:35 a.m. Fire crews are are getting help from a fleet of planes and helicopters using the Air Force Academy as a base. "We'd like to put a shout out to the Air Force Academy," said fire spokesman Greg Heule.
6:57 a.m.: Fire officials have just called for mandatory evacuations for areas south of U.S. Highway 24, including Cascade, Green Mountain Falls and Chipita Park, about 1,500 residences.
3:17 a.m. With 5,000 leaving Manitou Springs this morning, mandatory evacuations cover more than 7,000 people in Pikes Peak region.
3:10 a.m. Reporter on the phone with Manitou Fire Department. Chief ordered townwide evacuation.
2:46 a.m. People are being evacuated from Manitou's Cliff House.
2:18 a.m. TV is asking where the Air Force is tonight.
1:56 a.m Sheriff Maketa on Manitou evacuations: "They would rather begin the evacuation now and give people time." Maketa says firefighters fear the Waldo Canyon fire will make a fast run in the morning, prompting the night time evacuations.
Maketa says the fire is not calming down well tonight. "It was 72 degrees at midnight." Maketa said drought and heat created "a real tinder box" at the scene. "Evergreen trees were just bursting into fireballs," he said.
Maketa said the fire is making downhill push from Cedar Heights toward Manitou Springs. Maketa said this fire "has a southern edge that seem to be traveling east but it can quickly come south down a valley."
Sheriff Maketa said the fire is sending up embers that can travel a "tremendous distance" from fire lines and start spot blazes.
He says the fire is primarily traveling north but has southern spur that is active tonight.
Maketa: Manitou authorities plan gradual Waldo County fire evacuation before morning. Will work to contact residents when its time to go. Maketa said Manitou evacuation called now so order will be maintained, rather than a hasty retreat from the fire.
-- all residents west of 30th Street from Gateway, near Garden of the Gods park, north to Chuckwagon in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood.
-- Cedar Heights, a gated community west of the Garden of the Gods.
-- Cascade area on the north side of Hwy 24 from County Line east to Waldo Canyon
-- Mountain Shadows area - west of 30th, north of Chuckwagon
-- Allegheny east to I-25 north to Air Force Academy, including the neighborhoods of Peregrine, Oakhills, Discovery, Raven Hills, unincorporated Woodmen Valley, Pine Creek estates and Thunderbird estates.
-- Areas of Green Mountain Falls.
6:31 p.m. From the city of Colorado Springs: Approximately 1050 homes have been evacuated and 200 people from Glen Eyrie Conference Center were evacuated to the Woodmen Valley Chapel.
6:30 p.m. Colorado Springs police Detective Derek Graham was among those going door-to-door for the evacuations. Talking to a 98-year-old World war II veteran who survived the sinking fo his ship in Pearl Harbor, Graham repreatedly asked the man to leave. "It's going to move pretty fast. You should probably get moving," Graham told him.
Several minutes later, after more polcie talked to the man, he drove away with his family and caretaker.
"It's like robbing your own House,' said Andrew Krueger, the caretaker for the 98-year-old evacuee.
6:25 p.m. No reports of burned structures or injuries so far.
6:20 p.m. At Garden of the Gods Business Park, Colorado Springs police officials said 850 homes were in the evacuation zone and 200 were in the one of Cedar Heights. Officers have gone to about half to the 850 homes and have used an reverse 9-1-1 system and loudspeakers on their cars to tell people of mandatory evacuations.