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Gazette Premium Content WALDO CANYON FIRE: Weather could hamper firefighting efforts today

Staff reports Updated: June 25, 2012 at 12:00 am

4:30 a.m. El Paso County spokesperson Lara Sevene said she has no knowledge of the fire being close to jumping Highway 24. Sevene said she has no new information.

4:03 a.m. Some good news: The Colorado Highway Patrol says the fire is not threatening to jump Highway 24 at Cascade. It had been pushing toward the highway earlier in the night.

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.

3 a.m. Rocky Mountain Area Coordinating Center and National Weather Service predict high fire danger in the Pikes Peak region today. A big fear is dry lightning that could accompany afternoon thunderstorms.

2:54 a.m. Fire is not as aggressive as its first night, when it spread by one-quarter to one-half mile per hour, but it's still spreading in all directions.

2:30 a.m. View from downtown: Just a few hints of flame visible now in the high country west of Colorado Springs. The Waldo Canyon Fire appears to be taking a nap.

2:18 a.m. National Weather Service Forecast for Colorado Springs Tuesday: "A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms between noon and 3 p.m. Areas of smoke before 10 a.m. Mostly sunny, with a high near 94. West wind 5 to 15 mph becoming south. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent."

If we get some rain, you'll see a lot of smiles around town.

1:59 a.m. To recap: The Waldo Canyon Fire grew by 1,000 acres Monday to 4,500 acres. Containment: 5 percent Evacuees: 4,825 Firefighters: 600 Cost: $750,000 and climbing by the second.

1:47 a.m. Per the website for Waldo Canyon Fire: The plan for tomorrow is to keep the fire south of Rampart Range Road where possible and out of Queens Canyon using type 1 crews (Hotshots), and aircraft. Continue point protection in Cedar Heights and Cascade communities. Begin preparing Lucky 4 Road for indirect line construction. Continue structure preparation and protection around Palmer Reservoir and Eagle Lake Camp. Operations will plan for indirect line construction along north and west flanks of the fire. 

1:30 a.m. Searchers will help a pair of Air Force Academy cadets off Eagle Peak west of the campus this morning after they called seeking assistance.

The Air Force Academy said the cadets were not equipped for the hike and did not seek permission from commanders to head up the peak.

An academy spokesman said the cadets were not hurt, but couldn't make it down the peak in the darkness.

Air Force security police and El Paso County Search And Rescue volunteers were tracking down the cadets and would bring them down.

The cadets were not in danger from the Waldo Canyon Fire, which is far to the south of Eagle Peak.

1:10 a.m. Sheriff's Office confirms searchers looking for pair of cadets overdue from Eagle Peak hike.

12:56 Do not take food or drinks to the fire command center at Holmes Middle School.

"People have been so generous and giving," said CSFD spokesperson Sunny Smaldino, "but we have no place to put what they've been bringing. And we have all the resources we need. We encourage people to take what they have to the Red Cross, Catholic Charities, or the Salvation Army. We don't want anything to go to waste."

Care & Share Food Bank is another option.

12:43 El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark, whose district includes Waldo Canyon and all the residents evacuated due to the fire, announced she will proceed with plans for her election gathering at Springs Orleans at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

First election results should be announced by 7:15 p.m.

"Because of the recent fire events," Clark said her and husband Welling "heavily weighed whether to postpone our election gathering, but also felt that we should find a way to thank our hard working volunteers who have been involved with the campaign.

Clark was at the fire command center Saturday shortly after the blaze began.

12:18 a.m. Officials predict the Waldo Canyon Fire will be contained by July 16 but say potential growth of the blaze is 3,000-5,000 additional acres. High rate of spread potential to the north and east, significant spread possible to the west into Cascade and Green Mountain Falls, and south into Cedar Heights.

12 a.m. Scanner traffic indicates a cabin has burned at Eagle Lake Camp, that would be the first structure lost to the Waldo Canyon Fire. We're working to confirm.

11:40 p.m. Doolies at the Air Force Academy won't get a fire-related delay. Their harsh first day of military life will begin as scheduled in Thursday, the academy said in a news release.

"Currently, the Waldo Canyon Fire will not affect reporting for the cadet appointees for the class of 2016. Appointees will report as scheduled on June 28."

11:35 p.m. "I saw a lot of glow in the Air Force Academy area as I drove north on I-25," Colorado Springs Fire Department spokesperson Sunny Smaldino said. "A lot of spectators were at the pull-off watching the fire. We were getting more glow tonight."

11:23 p.m. The fire appears to be slowing down a bit. The winds, which were stoking flare-ups have calmed considerably.

11:08 p.m. Fire is a quarter-mile from Highway 24 and "that's too close for comfort for me," said CSFD spokesperson Sunny Smaldino. "No structures have been lost and firefighters are working to hold that line and protect homes."

10:43 p.m. Fire radio chatter indicates the blaze is pretty active tonight, with flare-ups reported on the north and south ends of the fire.

10:38 p.m. We're getting some more closure information for Tuesday: Hope Montessori Chuckwagon: will be closed as long as the mandatory evacuation is in place.  Will re-open when evacuation is lifted.

10:21 p.m. Spot fires that can be seen downtown are growing on the north end of the blaze.

10:16 p.m.

The Pikes Peak chapter of the American Red Cross says it will provide provide shelter to 36 individuals at Summit Elementary School in Divide and 26 at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs.

9:50 p.m.

Fire along Gold Camp was small and is already out, according to Gazette reporter Maria St.Louis-Sanchez.

9:37 p.m.

City and county officials are now reporting the "official" number of acres burned is in fact 4,500 acres.

Other official numbers: 5 percent containment and 600 personnel activated.

9:24 p.m.

Update: Fire officials in Divide said the fire grew to 4,500 acres. However, fire officials in Colorado Springs maintain the correct size is 4,000 acres.

9:16 p.m.

El Paso County confirms there are two fires burning off Gold Camp Road, south of the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Crews are on scene.

No information on the size or cause of the fires was immediately available.

From fire radio traffic, they sound small at this time.

8:37 p.m.

The community meeting at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs has ended.

8:36 p.m.

"This is a little scary ... but please, when you leave, leave with this thought, we are all here for you," said Jerri Marr, supervisor of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests.

8:31 p.m.

Mayor Steve Bach said the city has a plan if subsequent evacuations are necessary.

8:22 p.m.

The community meeting in Divide, which drew more than 100 people, has ended.

8:14 p.m.

People are wondering what is being done to protect Green Mountain Falls and Cascade from embers as well as looters.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said there are active patrols and spotters watching for spreading embers.

8:08 p.m.

At the community meeting in Colorado Springs, residents are asking when the evacuation order will be lifted.

"It depends on where you live," Gazette reporter Maria St.Louis-Sanchez said on Twitter.

For Cedar Heights, "maybe in next few days," she reported.

In Cascade, it could be two or three days, "maybe even sooner if good things happen," she reported.

For Mountain Shadows, it depends on the wind, she reported.

8:03 p.m.

The Joint Information Center wants to remind citizens that they should call the 477-4205 tip line only if they have information that would help investigators determine the cause of the Waldo Canyon Fire.

"They should only use that number if they were actually in Waldo Canyon or Pyramid Mountain area on Friday 6/22 or Saturday 6/23," the center said in a news release.

7:51 p.m.

At the community meeting in Colorado Springs, Mayor Steve Bach says he has a message for people who have been evacuated: We care very much about you.

"As you go to sleep tonight we are all saying a prayer for you," Bach said.

The mayor said the city government was prepared for an incident like the Waldo Canyon Fire.

7:49 p.m.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said officials don't believe the Waldo Canyon Fire is related to the Teller County arson activity "whatsoever."

7:37 p.m.

Officials say they have "started conversations" to reopen Highway 24, which is closed from the Cave of the Winds to Woodland Park.

In addition to protecting lives and property, officials say they want to get people back home.

"We want to get everyone back into home, but we want to do it cautiously," El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said.

7:31 p.m.

The fire has moved into Wellington Gulch, officials at the community meeting in Colorado Springs said.

"There's record dryness, steep topography," Gazette reporter Maria St.Louis-Sanchez said on Twitter.

7:11 p.m.

Gazette reporter Matt Steiner, who is at a community meeting in Divide, is reporting that the Waldo Canyon Fire is now at 4,500 acres.

However, at the community meeting in Colorado Springs, officials estimated the size of the fire at 4,000 acres.

Steiner attributed the source of the 4,500-acre estimate as fire information officer Greg Heule.

The Gazette has reporters at both community meetings and will provide updates throughout the night.

At both meetings, officials said there haven't been any injuries or structures lost.

"Our firefighters are doing an amazing job fighting this fire," El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark said on Twitter.

6:56 p.m.

The auditorium at Cheyenne Mountain High School is filling up for a community meeting.

About 250 people have showed up so far and more are streaming in.

Incident command staff are scheduled to give the public an update on the fire and answer questions.

6:33

El Paso County is receiving an increased number of code enforcement complaints as a result of the fire.

“People are calling to complain about their neighbor’s property. They have lots of pine needles, tall weeds and piles of branches," Mark Gebhart, the county's development code administrator, said in a statement.

"The callers want this handled immediately because of the fire concerns," he said.

Gebhart said the county doesn’t have the legal ability, staff or financial means to solve the problem immediately.

"The best thing that could happen is for the neighbors to talk about the problem with the owner and have the property owner take care of it. Or for the neighbors to join in together to help with what needs to be done,” he said.

According to the county, the "normal procedure" is for code enforcement officers to investigate the reported offense in person and issue a formal notice to fix or clean the property if the complaint is legitimate.

"That could take up to one week depending on the case load for the office," a press release states. "Once the notice is given the property owner has 10 days to bring the property up to code. If that doesn’t happen, the code enforcement office will bring the property owner before the Board of County Commissioners to start legal action. That could take up to four weeks."

6:14 p.m.

The final high temperature for Monday was 98 degrees, breaking the previous record of 95 degrees set in 1990, 1991 and 2010, according to the National Weather Service.

5:48 p.m.

The city of Colorado Springs has enacted a burn ban.

The burn ban went into effect at 6 p.m. Monday and will remain in effect until weather and fuel conditions improve, officials said.

"The Waldo Canyon Fire is a reminder that we live in a wildfire prone area. Protecting life and property has to be everyone’s priority,” Fire Chief Rich Brown said in a statement.

Recreational fires, bonfires, model rockets and open/prescribed burning are prohibited under a burn ban.

Fires in fireplaces, both portable and fixed, also are not allowed, except for propane or natural gas.

Blasting, welding and torches are allowed, but only by permit.

Outdoor smoking is allowed, but smoking materials must be disposed in a non-combustible container.

Cooking outside is allowed except in regional city parks and open spaces.

"Everyone is asked to take extra precautions to prevent wildfires when participating in all types of outdoor activities," the Colorado Springs Fire Department said in a press release. "When smoking in a vehicle, do not discard cigarettes out of the window. We ask that parents remain especially cognizant of their children’s activities."

Criteria used to determine either a burn restriction or a burn ban include weather and local and regional fire activity.

"A careless fire that threatens or damages property is fourth degree arson and shall be prosecuted as such," city documents state.

5:39 p.m.

One of the area’s biggest summer events remained a go as of Monday.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the annual motor race to the summit of Pikes Peak that draws thousands of visitors from around the world, is scheduled for July 8, with a fan festival two days earlier in downtown Colorado Springs.

Hill Climb officials were scheduled to meet with Springs city representatives Tuesday and expect to also talk this week with officials from El Paso and Teller counties and the U.S. Forest Service, said race operations director Megan Leatham

“Everything is moving forward,” she said. “We just don’t have any information because we haven’t had these meetings. I’m working like we’re racing.”

5:25 p.m.

Springs Rescue Mission is starting to accept items for people affected by the fire.

The items in greatest demand are Gatorade, blankets, food, clothing and household items, the agency said in an email.

Donations can be dropped off at the agency's warehouse, 1 W. Las Vegas St. The warehouse is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

“It is our privilege to be a part of the community response to our neighbors who are living through uncertain days during the Waldo fire,” Springs Rescue Mission CEO Rev. Joe Vazquez said in a statement.

“Our prayer is that we can direct much-needed help from their friends and neighbors quickly and efficiently. We also hope to somehow benefit those who are risking their lives for the community’s safety," he said.

5:07 p.m.

The Colorado Springs City Council has scheduled a special meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The meeting is in council chambers at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Avenue.

The council agenda includes five proposed resolutions pertaining to the proposed lease of Memorial Health System by University of Colorado Health system.

The council may also go into closed executive session.

"The issues to be discussed (in executive session) involve legal advice and negotiation consultation with the City Attorney regarding various MHS issues including legal advice regarding the structure of a public foundation to receive MHS lease proceeds," the agenda states.

The regularly scheduled meetings on Monday and Tuesday were canceled as a result of the fire.

4:50 p.m.
Here's more from our reporters who attended the 4 p.m. press briefing and stayed to talk to some of the fire officials later:

  • Jerri Marr, forest supervisor for the Pike and San Isabel National Forests said “The values at risk still make this fire the No. 1 in the country right now.” It doesn't mean it's more important than the High Park Fire near Fort Collins, or others burning throughout the west. It's an assessment based on the complexity of the fire, its movement in multiple directions, the shifting winds and its proximity to residential areas.
  • Firefighters had three big successes today: They kept the fire away from Cascade, they got to 5 percent containment, and they were able to set up two anchor points, safety zones where firefighters can work without the fire at their backs, allowing them to go on the offensive.
  • Colorado Springs Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Lari Seven said arson hasn't been ruled out, but no one wants to be "presumptive." She said it will take investigators a couple of days to get to the source of the fire.

4:40 p.m.
Penrose Urgent Care in Woodland Park & Cripple Creek will re-open tomorrow barring any further evacuations.

4 p.m.
From the afternoon press conference -- Waldo Canyon Fire is 5 percent contained. No additional evacuations have been ordered, and no injuries have been reported. "They are facing some tough conditions," one official says.

The fire doesn't seem to have grown much from the approximate 3,440 acres from this morning, but an infrared survey tonight will provide a more accurate picture. Cascade and Cedar Heights are the most-threatened communities. "The fire is actually bumping our containment lines in Cedar Heights." Some 1,606 homes and 3,055 people are still affected by the mandatory evacuations -- a number that fell significantly once Manitou residents were allowed back to their homes on Sunday.

Regarding Queen's Canyon and Mountain Shadows: "The fire line we have around Queen's Canyon is mostly along Rampart Road. We're attempting to keep the fire from spreading east." But Mountain Shadows is still "of concern." "And we're doing all we can to make sure it doesn't spread in that direction. The troops are out doing triage work."

Cost to date to fight the fire is around $750,000 in federal money. "Continue to look for that cost to rise, especially as we put more aircraft in the air." That figure excludes local costs, and Mayor Bach expects the figure to be high because of overtime for police and firefighters.

Teller County is not under immediate threat, but "the fire is moving in multiple directions." In fact, someone notes at the press conference that the wind shifted as they were speaking. Authorities' advice: Pay attention to reverse-911 calls, and be ready to evacuate.

El Paso County Sheriff has established a tip line for help on the cause of fire: 719-477-4205. The next press conference won't be until 8 a.m. Tuesday.

3:50 p.m.
Mayor Steve Bach appears on CNN, tells the world that Colorado Springs is safe and open for business, and is a community that's pulling together to help firefighters and those displaced by the fire.

3:40 p.m.

Reporter Jakob Rodgers says the C-130s are NOT grounded. The planes are in Pueblo, where refueling station is, according to the 302nd Airlift Wing.

3 p.m.

New Incident Information System report places the growth potential of the fire at 3,000 to 5,000 additional acres, with this alarming forecast: "High rate of spread potential to the north and east, significant spread possible to the west into Cascade and Green Mountain Falls, and south into Cedar Heights."

2:47 p.m.

If the Waldo Canyon Fire moves farther west and evacuations need to be ordered in Woodland Park, Mayor Dave Turley said today that residents will be notified through all available avenues: facebook.com, twitter.com, reverse 911 calls, newspapers, television news, door-to-door alerts and word of mouth.

"There will be a double check of all neighborhoods," Turley said, noting that city workers, police and fire will walk the streets, making note of each home's status and returning later to contact homeowners who weren't home the first time.

Turley said the Teller County Sheriff has a representative at the incident command center in Colorado Springs. That deputy has been relaying information to Sheriff Mike Ensminger who then shares it with Woodland Park City Manager David Buttery.

According to the mayor, the fire was still more than seven miles from the Woodland Park line Monday morning, and firelines were being established between Highway 24 and the Eagle Lake Camp along an old mining road near the the quarry east of Green Mountain Falls.

Some areas of the town of just over 7,000 people have been given a pre-evacuation warning, but Turley said everyone in Woodland Park, and the Pikes Peak region for that matter, should be prepared to leave at a moment's notice.

2:42
We're getting reports that the C-130s have been grounded because of smoke, but we haven't confirmed. Report comes from our news partners at KOAA.


2:27 P.M.

High temperatures are contributing to the challenge of fighting the Waldo Canyon fire. Monday marked the fourth record hot day in a row in Colorado Springs. The thermometer rose to 96 degrees Monday afternoon at the Colorado Springs Airport, edging out the previous record of 95 set in 2010. On Sunday and Saturday, temperatures were as high as 100 degrees, which both matched records set in 1954. On Friday, temperatures were as high as 97 degrees, beating a 95-degree record set in 1978.

2:05 P.M.

Fire investigators looking into the cause of the Waldo Canyon fire are seeking help from people who were in the canyon area at or around the time the fire ignited at noon Saturday.

If you were in the Waldo Canyon or Pyramid Mountain area on Friday or Saturday, call 719-477-4205; leave your name and contact number. Investigators from the U.S. Forest Service and the Rocky Basin 2 Incident Management Team are hoping the public can provide leads to help them identify the cause of the blaze.         

1:56 P.M.

Andrew Wineke: "Another C-130 overhead now."

1:40 p.m.

The C-130s are in the air fighting the fire.

From Gazette reporter Andrew Wineke: "Just saw C-130 drop slurry over north end of fire."

1:36 p.m.

Fire crews in Waldo Canyon are reporting that temperatures are rising, and fire conditions are becoming more extreme. "Things are starting to cook up deep in the bowls and drainages," someone said on police radios.

See some of the action at The Gazette slideshow:

http://www.gazette.com/sections/slideshow/?id=14898170


1:25 p.m.

The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region hasd a few spaces more for animals. They had been at capacity Sunday. But on Monday, some Manitou residents retrieved their cats and dogs, opening up some spaces. The Humane Society is located at 610 Abbott Lane off of 8th Street.


1:05 p.m.
C-130s are still en route to Pueblo, where they will be loaded up with retardant and given orders to fight a fire -- either the Waldo or High Park. But everyone at Peterson believes it will be Waldo. In the meantime, the retardant mixing stations have arrived at Peterson, and are expected to be set up by 2:30 p.m., according to Guy Clancy, with Phos-Chek, the company that supplies the retardant. He said crews with the retardant drove overnight from Idaho. It takes four people to operate the retardant mixing station for the C-130 base. This means the planes won't have to go to Pueblo first, and they can be in the air ready to fight the fire within 20 minutes of receiving an order to go.

Even better, the station here will be able to load up more than one plane at a time; Pueblo is limited to one.

1 p.m.

The Pikes Peak Library District has set up its mobile Laptop Lab at the Red Cross Shelter at Cheyenne Mountain High School for evacuees of the Waldo Canyon Fire to use. A library spokesman said the Laptop Lab’s 12 computers have been in constant use since they were set up on Sunday.

12:30 p.m.
And they're off for Pueblo!

12:27 p.m.
Two C130s are taxiing on the runway now. The two, which are with the 302nd Airlift Wing, were called to load up retardant in Pueblo in anticipation of fighting the Waldo Canyon fire.  The order came after two C130s arrived from Wyoming. After the aircraft take off from the Colorado Springs Airport, they can at be the fire within an hour. 

12:24 p.m.
With the fire in Queen's Canyon, the Navigators is keeping a close eye on things and keeping people away. All groups that were staying there are now being housed in private homes, and the staff is working out of Focus On The Family.

12:14 p.m
Start the engines... the C-130s are headed to Pueblo to load up. "They're expected to get a launch order once they get to Pueblo to come back to Waldo," said Lt. Col. Luke Thompson w/ 302nd. The aircraft are loading retardant in Pueblo because the mixing stations at Peterson Air Force Base are not yet operational. It’s expected to take about 10 minutes to load retardant.

12:05 p.m.
Reporter Jakob Rodgers says the C-130s are staffed and ready to go. Officials are just awaiting orders from incident command, which decides when these planes would be best used. He also saw two C-130s from Wyoming fly over the runway, getting ready to land.

11:55 a.m.

Fire crew at the Flying W Ranch has punched through the fire line and they are calling for hand crews. Big offensive play.

11:45 a.m.

The BLM bans ALL campfires in 21 counties, including El Paso, Teller, Fremont and Chaffee.

11:41 a.m.
Commissioner Sallie Clark says a Hot Shot Team from Redding, CA, is coming to help out with the Waldo Canyon Fire.

11:31 a.m.

Two C-130s w/ the 302nd Airlift Wing are on the tarmac at Peterson Air Force Base. 


11:22 a.m.
From the Air Force Academy: Col. Tim Gibson, 10th Air Base Wing commander, has closed all trails leading west off the Academy as a precaution because of the Waldo Canyon fire. These include the Eagle's Peak, Stanley Canyon and Blodgett trails. Also, the Santa Fe trail is closed south of the Ice Lake trailhead. Currently, the Falcon trail is open. The Farish Recreation Area was issued a mandatory evacuation order Sunday due to its proximity to the fire.

11:17 a.m.

While other gas stations in Woodland Park are out of gas except diesel, at least one had fuel and a steady stream of customers.  Crystal Edwards, a clerk at the Cenex station on U.S.  24, said a truck brought gas from Denver Sunday night, coming south on Highway 67.  A clerk at the Safeway gas station in the Teller County town says there are talks of a possible convoy that might be let up Ute Pass to bring more fuel, but an El Paso County Sheriff's says U.S. 24 will not be reopened.

10:51 a.m.

Rep. Doug Lamborn says he received updated info from the Incident 1 Team that the MAFFS C-130s will be flying at noon, barring any emergencies that change plans. Gazette reporter Jakob Rodgers is at Peterson Air Force Base, waiting for a media briefing on the C-130s. The briefing should start around 11:30 a.m. "One thing to keep in mind," Rodgers says in a Tweet. "These C-130s won't just be for the Waldo Canyon Fire. They'll be shared with the High Park fire."

10:45 a.m.

Chopper just dropped a load of water on southeast side. Looks like three helis are hovering along mountains now. The fire is spitting embers up to a 1/4 mile, catching trees outside the fire lines. The ridge line completely obscures the fire as it rages up Queens Canyon.

10:40 a.m.

A grassroots event has sprung up to help the merchants of Manitou Springs. People are being encouraged to "mob" the town on Wednesday and eat, shop, spend and show their support. For more info, go to the "Manitou Mob" page on Facebook.

10:33 a.m.
In what might come as no surprise to anyone, the air quality in Colorado Springs is deemed "unhealthy for sensitive groups" because of fine particulates in the air from the smoke. The forecast on particulates rises to plain old "unhealthy," meaning that even if you aren't elderly, very young or have heart or respiratory problems, you should take it easy and stay indoors if you can.

10:10 a.m.
Flames have erupted behind a home in Cedar Heights, according to reporter Ryan Maye 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.

9:55 a.m.

Here's a bit more from the field on the fire jumping Rampart Range Road into Queen's Canyon: Fire officials say Glen Eyrie is near the bottom of the canyon and is not in imminent danger.  It's a large canyon, Greg Heule says.

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.


9:45 a.m.:
The U.S. Postal Service is relocating operations because of the fire, and about 1,130 post office boxes and 850 street deliveries will be affected.

If you live in Green Mountain Falls, mail pickup will be out of the Woodland Park, Tamarac Station, 900 Tamarac Parkway.  Hours of service are 9-5. Questions can be directed to 719-686-0240.

If you live in Cascade, CO, 80809, mail pickup will be at the Colorado Springs, West End Retail Unit, located at 204 S 25th St 80904.  Hours of service are 830-5:30.  Questions can be directed to 719-570-5456.

If you live in the Colorado Springs, Cedar Heights area, ZIP 80904, mail pickup will be at the Colorado Springs West End Retail Unit located at 204 S 25th St 80904.  Hours of service are 830-530. Questions can be directed to 719-570-5456.

If you live in the Rockrimmon area of West Centennial Blvd, South Chuckwagon Road, North 30th and Flying W Ranch Road Colorado Springs 80919, mail pickup will be at the Colorado Springs Rockrimmon Station , located at 5001 Centennial Blvd 80919. Hours of service are 730-530. Questions can be directed to 719-266-8216. 

Future delivery decisions will be made after consulting with local emergency managers.

9:40 a.m.: Reporter John Schroyer says the fire has jumped Rampart Range Road and is in Queens Canyon.

9:36 a.m. Even with the evacuation center move to Divide, there are still five RVs making camp in the Woodland Park High School parking lot.  "This is going to be home for a while," said Brian Johnson, a Green Mountain falls resident.

 The 62-year-old Johnson and his girlfriend, Jane Houtz, have their motor home, two cars and a trailer with, "just about everything I own" at the high school, Johnson said.

9:19 a.m.

Confusion surrounded the arrival of four C-130 aircraft slated to help firefighters battle the Waldo Canyon fire on Monday.

Authorities offered conflicting reports on Monday morning of when the C-130s would take to the air. Greg Heule, a spokesman for the fire crews, said he believed the aircraft -- which are capable of dumping two to three times as much retardant as past tankers -- won't be operational until Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Dave Condit, commander of the 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, said on Sunday afternoon that the aircraft were told to be operational by Monday evening, with the earliest flights coming by noon on Monday.

Ann Skarban, spokeswoman for the 302nd Airlift Wing, said Monday morning she hadn't heard any changes to the plan.

The C-130 aircraft can dump up to 3,000 gallons of retardant over a quarter-mile strip. Due to weight concerns at such high elevations, crews expect to carry 2,600 gallons for the Waldo Canyon Fire.

The largest tankers so far on the fire have been able to dump 800 to 1,200 gallons of retardant.

Two of the aircraft will come from the 302nd Airlift Wing, a reserve wing at Peterson Air Force Base. The other two hail from the 153rd Airlift Wing, an Air National Guard unit.

8:58 A.M.
Firefighters are shifting into offensive mode against the Waldo Canyon fire rather than defensive, officials said Monday - but it won't be easy.

"We're expecting extreme fire behavior," fire information officer Greg Heule said, citing forecasts of high temperatures, no cloud cover and wind gusts up to 30 mph.

And extra help from the air that was expected Monday won't be coming until Tuesday; officials said four Air Force C-130 aircraft won't be taking to the skies until then. The aircraft can spray two to three times as much retardant as other tankers to spray ahead of the fire.

 Meanwhile, if wind gusts do reach 30 mph or higher, helicopers will have to be grounded.

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.

7:30 A.M.

A briefing on the Waldo Canyon fire is expected in a half-hour. Gazette reporters Ryan Maye Handy and John Schroyer will be there. Watch for updates here and follow Tweets; hash tag #WaldoCanyonFire.

6 A.M.

When the Waldo Canyon fire will be contained remains uncertain, Lt. Jeff Kramer, spokesman for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, said early Monday.

"We cannot predict where or when containment will occur," Kramer said. "We're eager to get the initial update of firefighters that worked throughout the night."

A news conference is set for 8 a.m. at the fire briefing center at Coronado High School.

"Our fire crews continue to adjust to a fluid and dynamic environment," Kramer said. "Even though we have no containment, there's a very positive message. They've done a fantastic job of point protection. We had in excess of 13,000 homes and valuable infrastructures threatened by the fire and not one has been lost."

Although Manitou Springs residents were allowed to return home on Sunday, 6,000 people remain under evacuation.

At last report, the Waldo Canyon Fire covered 3,600 acres. How much it will grow, and how fast, depends on a number of variables, Kramer said.

"The weather forecast is a key component of that," he said.

Hot and dry is the forecast for the week, with temperatures reaching 100 degrees predicted Monday and Tuesday. The National Weather Service in Pueblo predicts no rain for the next eight days, except for an isolated thunderstorm in the mountains, possibly to reach Colorado Springs, on Wednesday. Temperatures will gradually decrease to 90 by Saturday.

Winds should be from the south at 15-25 mph Monday and Tuesday, with gusts to 35 mph. Winds from Wednesday to Monday are expected to be 10 mph, from the south the first two days, the east on Friday, and the southeast on the weekend.

"Increased wind speeds can accelerate the speed a fire can move," Kramer said. "As the column fire rises higher into the sky, wind can carry embers from the main column and create a spot fire. Our crews monitor that and work diligently to take care of those."

Kramer said embers from a blaze like the Waldo Canyon fire can carry half-a-mile in less wind than is expected Monday and Tuesday.

On Sunday night, officials said a Type 1 National Team, described as the Navy Seals of firefighting, had arrived in Colorado Springs and that the team has taken command. More  firefighters also arrived.

Four C-130 aircraft are slated to join the fight around noon on Monday. Two of the aircraft will be from the 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, a reserve unit. Two will be from the 153rd Airlift Wing, a Wyoming Air National Guard unit. All four aircraft were also made available to crews fighting the High Park fire.

The planes will likely carry 2,600 gallons of retardant, less than their full-capacity of 3,000 due to weight concerns. High temperatures mixed with altitude make for thin air, prompting the change, officials said.

Officials were waiting for a late-night infrared flight to highlight the fire's hot points and better measure the acreage consumed.

"All the info from that and the ground crews will be used to create strategies on how to attack the fire," Kramer said. "The volatility and behavior of the fire hasn't let them attack the fire on the ground. Air efforts have helped combat it so far. Now that we have federal funding, we can bring other resources to the table."

 

 

 

http://www.gazette.com/sections/slideshow/?id=14898170

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