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WALDO CANYON FIRE: Shelters have room for evacuees

June 26, 2012
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photo - The Waldo Canyon fire destroys houses in Mountain Shadows on Wednesday, June 26, 2012. Photo by JERILEE BENNETT,  THE GAZETTE
The Waldo Canyon fire destroys houses in Mountain Shadows on Wednesday, June 26, 2012. Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE 

3:30 a.m. The evacuation area is a ghost town, police say. "Most of our people have been swept up in the evacuation process," an officer at the department's Gold Hill Division said.  "People have been pretty cooperative. If we can't save the houses, at least we can save the people."

3:20 a.m. The morning commute will start for the military in just a couple of hours. Drivers will need to be wary and cautious. Heavy smoke is hanging in some of the areas that haven't been evacuated. the Evacuations will make for a confusing rise for many who will find their usual route closed. And there will be plenty to distrct drivers as the sun rises. You'll find our traffic map here: http://www.gazette.com/sections/traffic/

3 a.m. This just in from Colorado Springs: "Due to the Waldo Canyon Fire emergency, Mountain Metropolitan Transit fixed route and FREX service will not be operating regular service on Wednesday June 27, 2012.  Metro Mobility will provide only medical scheduled appointments. All fixed route, FREX and Metro Mobility bus drivers please report at your scheduled times for emergency service transportation. "

2:50 a.m. Firefighters continue their battle to save homes this morning. They aren't winning them all. Heard on fire radio: "We're not going to save this structure." "I just heard the roof collapse."

2:43 a.m. Weather Service: Colorado Springs remains under Red Flag Warning Wednesday.

2:34 a.m. From the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center: "Significant growth is anticipated with active fire behavior expected overnight."

2:14 a.m. "No signs of a fire in Ute Park," said Jackie Kirby, public information officer for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. "We can't confirm the fire crossed Centennial but firefighters did spot embers coming over at 5-5:30 (p.m. Tuesday)."

1:35 a.m. Wind is from the north-northwest according to fire officials on the scanner, pushing fire toward more homes in the city.

1:10 a.m. Hotel rooms are available in Manitou Springs, at the Cliff House (12 rooms), Comfort Inn (17) and Silver Saddle (12).

1:02 a.m. All Colorado Springs hotels appear to be booked, according to desk clerks at a dozen area hotels. South Denver Marriott said there may not be a hotel room in Denver available, due to the Waldo Canyon Fire and a big softball tournament.

12:49 a.m. On casualties, Maketa said deputies "haven't heard of any or heard of any suspected."

12:47 a.m. Maketa says security is tight in evacuated parts of the city even as firefighters work to save homes.

12:33 a.m. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says the fire remains "very active" west of Centennial from Flying W. Ranch to just past Vindicator.

12:28 a.m. Caravan of fire trucks and 28 firefighters left Pueblo at 9 p.m. headed here to help with fire.

12:05 a.m. Colorado Springs Utilities reports that the city's water supply remains safe to drink. Facilities not burned.

11:57 p.m. Clarification, Holland Park is evacuated ONLY west of Centennial Boulevard. Check here for an up-to-date map of evacuations.

11:38 p.m. According to scanner traffic, one of the most worrisome areas is just west of Flying W Ranch road, between Wilson Road and Wolfe Ranch Road.

11:23 p.m. Fort Carson has shelters available for Air Force Academy personnel, and their families,  evacuated by the Waldo Canyon Fire. The Air Force evacuees can report to Fort Carson Gate 1. Also, the Red Cross reports that all shelters have plenty of room and even have nurses and crisis counselors on hand. Those shelters are:

  • Lewis Palmer High School: 1300 Higby in Monument
  • Cheyenne Mountain High School: 1200 Cresta Road
  • Southeast YMCA: 2190 Jet Wing Drive


11:16 p.m.

The Antler's Hilton, 4 S. Cascade Ave., is opening up a ballroom for evacuees. All of their actual rooms are full. Hotel employees say the ballroom can fit about 50 to 60 people and, while they have some blankets, it would help for evacuees to bring sleeping bags. About 11:15 p.m. they had less than 10 people there.


11:05 p.m.


The evactuation center at the former Phil Long Expo Center is closing. Those needing shelter can go to the following Red Cross shelters: 

  • Lewis Palmer High School: 1300 Higby in Monument
  • Cheyenne Mountain High School: 1200 Cresta Road
  • Southeast YMCA: 2190 Jet Wing Drive


11:01 p.m.


The Air Force Academy will be closed to visitors and non-essential personnel Wednesday because of the Waldo Canyon Fire.  Only mission essential personnel and personnel in direct support of cadet activities such as in-processing and student academics should plan to report for duty. 

For updates on the evacuation or duty reporting, go to www.usafa.af.mil and click on the "Waldo Canyon Fire" tab or call the Straight Talk Line at 719-333-7876.

10:58 p.m.


The media staging area near Coronado High School has been moved, because it is now in the evacuation area. The staging area has been moved to UCCS.


10:51 p.m.


Travelers tonight should be warned that all exits onto west-bound highways from from Academy to Uintah are closed, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Interstate 25 was re-opened earlier tonight.


10:23 p.m.

Southbound Interstate 25 has been reopened through Colorado Springs, city spokeswoman Julie Smith said at 10:15 p.m.

Holland Park is now under a mandatory evacuation order.

The fire has grown to 6,200 acres, and remains 5% contained. According to inciweb.org, 20,085 residences and 160 commercial structures are threatened. More than 750 firefighters are working the fire.

10:09 p.m.

Colorado Springs City Council President Scott Hente said the house he built 13 years ago sat above the Flying W Ranch and that he believed it had burned to the ground.

"This could possibly be one of the worst disasters in the history of Colorado Springs," he said. "We're a great community, we'll survive this, we'll get out of this."

Hente, who flew in combat in the first Gulf War, said he saw things today he had never seen before.

"Even as I got out, I couldn't count the number of fires on the hillside," he said. "All I saw was the whole hill on fire and you could see it start to move down and I couldn't look at it at that point. We just drove out."

10:05 p.m.

At the Southeast YMCA, 2190 Jetwing Drive, there were about 15 people in the shelter about 9:30 p.m. and there was room for at least 50 more and kenneled pets, the shelter director said.

Ben Butler and Anna Marlay were outside the shelter, giving their beagle Walter a walk. They moved to Colorado Springs three weeks ago from Iowa and chose their apartment near Garden of the Gods and I-25 to be close to the mountains, Butler said.

"We weren't thinking about wildfires," he said. "We don't have those in Iowa."

John Hobson crammed as much of his home into the trunk of his hatchback as he could. He was evacuated on Saturday and stayed with a friend. On Tuesday, he was able to briefly return to his home before he was evacuated a second time with flames glowing nearby.

"Seeing where that fire was and knowing where my house was, I'm sure it burned to the ground."

In his trunk he had clothes, important papers, his computer hard drive, a flute and decorations he hung on his walls.

"When you move and you hang the same things on your walls, that new place feels a lot more like home," he said. "It hurt to take them down."


10 p.m.


The Air Force Academy will be closed to visitors Wednesday, said Air Force Col. Tim Gibson.

Thus far, an estimated 2,000 people have been moved off the grounds. About 1,800 cadets remain on campus, Gibson said.

The academy plans to move ahead with its welcoming ceremonies Thursday for the class of 2016.


9:52 p.m.

The Pikes Peak chapter of the American Red Cross has prepared beds for 750 evacuees through the region and had counselors on hand at Cheyenne Mountain High School.

Spokeswoman Catherine Barde said the shelters at several lopcations were fully staffed and supplied.  Barde said counselors would be available to anyone in the city, not just evacuees.


9:50 p.m.


Residents of the Kissing Camels neighborhood are being urged to leave their homes.


9:36 p.m.

Addressing reporters, Gov. John Hickenlooper said hot, dry weather had fueled "one of the worst fire seasons" in memory.

"We've got the greatest firefighters on Earth fighting this fire, and there's nothing you can do when you get this kind of weather," he said.

Hickenlooper said he flew over the fire before the briefing -- and compared the spreading flames to a "military invasion."

"It's like looking at the worst movie set you can imagine," he said. "There were people's homes burned to the ground. It's almost surreal."

9:24 p.m.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is arriving, by helicopter, at the incident command center at Coronado High School, according to The Gazette's Daniel Chacon.

Stay tuned for more details on the governor's visit.

9:03 p.m.

Multiple homes have burned in the Mountain Shadows community.

Fire Chief Brown told reporters he wouldn't release estimates until firefighters have a better idea of the losses.

Fire crews are prioritizing their efforts based on which homes are most likely to be saved, Brown said.

Urging calm, Maketa says fire commanders are trying to assemble additional resources in a way that is safe and effective.

Calling in people without a plan for how to use them, or resources to provide for their support, would be counterproductive, he said.

"You can't just bring in 10,000 people and tell them to go fight a fire," Maketa said.

8:58 p.m.

Mayor Steve Bach asked the community to keep firefighters in their thoughts — as well as people affected by the fire's spread.

"It exploded far beyond what could have been predicted," he said.


8:57 p.m.

Residents of Douglass Valley at the Air Force Academy are now under a mandatory evacuation order, said Air Force Academy spokesman John Van Winkle.

8:53 p.m.

As many as 100 Colorado Springs police officers are on the ground, assisting as needed, Police Chief Pete Carey said during the update.

8:49 a.m.

Maketa says it's impossible to predict when the fire will be contained.

"There is no telling," Maketa said. "It's a very unpredictable fire. I think if we say days, that would give people an idea."

No injuries have been reported.

More aerial assets will be sent to the fire in the morning, officials say.

8:42 a.m.

Colorado Springs Fire Chief Rich Brown calls the blaze a "firestorm of epic proportions."

"We're making stands, we're saving many homes," Brown told reporters at an informational meeting now underway at Coronado High School. "Many, many homes. Our people are doing everything we can."

No new acreage estimate is available. Incident Commander Rich Harvey said an infrared flight is planned for 11 p.m. to update size estimates.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said authorities are working together to get resources to the growing fire -- raising the number of firefighters to more than 800.

"I've seen a lot of fire activity. I've just never seen one move this quickly," Maketa said.

Maketa said 32,000 people have been evacuated. The sheriff's home is also in the evacuation area, he said.

8:37 p.m.

Fueled by 65 mph winds, the fire broke through primary and secondary containment lines and spotted into Queen's Canyon -- leading to this evening's spread.

"This is truly historic and unprecedented weather that we're having," said fire information officer Jerri Marr, adding the area has received only 19 percent of the precipitation expected this year.

8:27 p.m.

The Gazette's Andy Wineke reports "huge flames" shooting up on north edge of fire. Blodgett Peak is engulfed in smoke and flames, he reports via Twitter.

8:17 p.m.

According to scanner traffic, a firefighter in the area of the Flying W Ranch estimates that 20 to 25 structures are ablaze. This hasn't been confirmed.

"It's going to continue like this all night unless we get some more resources," the firefighter said.

The Flying W Ranch has "burned to the ground," according to information on its website.

8:14 p.m.

Fort Carson is opening a gymnasium and barracks to Air Force Academy evacuees and is bracing to house more people forced to flee the academy if needed.

"We'll bring them in get them registered and get them comfortable as soon as possible," said post spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Wollman. "We've been examining for a number of days."

AFA families are asked to head to Fort Carson's main gate at Nelson Boulevard and Highway 115.


8:11 p.m.

Officials are urging the evacuation of all areas north of Garden of the Gods Road between Interstate 25 and western city limits.

7:57 p.m.

"We have structure-to-structure ignition," according to a scanner report. Call goes out for more resources. There is still no count of how many homes have been destroyed -- or saved.


7:25 p.m.

Officials are asking people to stay off cell phones unless it's an emergency as lines are clogged. Stay off the roads in the areas being evacuated.  Road closures, evacuation sites and orders are at gazette.com/traffic.

A news conference has been set for 8:30 p.m.

7:15 p.m.

Traffic on Rockrimmon Boulevard is at a standstill, all four lanes carrying eastbound traffic of people trying to evacuate. Reporter Bill Vogrin, who lives in the neighborhood, reported hot embers landing on his roof as he left his home.


7:10 p.m.
Closing southbound Interstate 25 at Interquest Parkway to accommodate evacuation of Pine Valley neighborhood on the Air Force Academy and evacuations further south.


7 p.m.
City, county and public safety officials ask people to use cell phones for emergency calls only, to keep the networks free for emergency personnel use.


6:56 p.m.
News is breaking faster than we can keep up with. Some headlines:

  • Fire is reported on the west slope of Ute Valley Park, scanner says.
  • The Red Cross has opened a new shelter at the YMCA Southeast Family Center, 2190 Jetwing Drive
  • Firefighters continue to report structures burning to the ground. One said he drove by 10 lots where virtually nothing is left. 
  • An evacuation point is open at Springs Church, the former Phil Long Expo Center Building, at 1515 Auto Mall Loop.  Evacuees are welcome to come to the church to regroup, get something to drink and call family members. This is not a shelter if you are in need of a shelter evacuees should  go to Cheyenne Mountain High School at 1200 Cresta Road.


6:52 p.m.

And yet more mandatory evacuations, as posted by the city of Colorado Springs:

The  Waldo Canyon Fire behavior continues to change and be aggressive. A new mandatory evacuation order has been issued for:

  • Rockrimmon and Woodmen Valley, west and north of Woodmen Road and I-25 and west and north of Rockrimmon Blvd and Vindicator Drive.
  • Pinon Valley and Pine Cliff,  west and north of Garden of the Gods Road and I-25 to Centennial north to Ute Valley Park

The mandatory evacuation order remains for all of Cedar Heights, Mountain Shadows and Peregrine. Residents are asked to leave the area immediately and may not return home.

6:40 p.m.
More mandatory evacuations ordered for northwest part of the city:  Everything north of Vindicator Drive and west of I-25 to the south side of the Air Force Academy. Air Force Academy is also reporting mandatory evacuations for Pine Valley. AFA evacuees are being told to head for Fort Carson.

 

6:39 p.m.
Fire crews are about to attack the north flank to prevent further structures from burning.

6:36 p.m.
A poignant e-mail from Flying W Ranch, sent earlier today: To all the employees, friends and fans of the Flying W Ranch. The Waldo Canyon fire has entered Queens Canyon less than one ridge a way from us. All electricity has been cut, livestock removed and antiques rescued. Please keep us in your thoughts and those whose homes are close to us.


6:31 p.m.

The two main housing areas at the Air Force Academy have been placed under pre-evacuation notice. The Pine Valley and Douglas Valley Housing areas were just given the notification, the academy said. The academy grounds are choked with  smoke and visibility is low.

6:27 p.m.

Mount Saint Francis Nursing Home on Centennial is being evacuated. Rocky Mountain Health Care Services is trying to bring in 7 wheelchair buses, but can't get in because of traffic. They tried calling police, but can't get through because of heavy phone traffic. They need an escort ASAP. Call them at 687-5984.

6:25 p.m.
Updated report says at least 20 structures are on fire or have burned. In one area, "the flame front has pushed through," and fire crews can get in.

6:18 p.m.
New scanner reports says roof of a house on Wilson Road is on fire. Reports also coming in of 8-10 houses on fire on the east side of Flying W Ranch Road.


6:05 p.m.
Scanner says "Multiple structures are on fire on Flying W Ranch Road."

6:02 p.m.
Reports are coming in about horrible traffic in the northwest part of town. "Traffic is a complete mess at Rockrimmon Blvd and Woodmen Road," reporter Daniel Chacon tweeted. There also are reports of spotty cell phone service.

5:53 p.m.
Someone reports ashes falling at Stetson Hills and Marksheffel.

5:42 p.m.
Sky Sox game for Tuesday night is postponed.

5:41 p.m.
Reports of structure fires are coming in, but details are sketchy. We are trying to confirm. Scanner chatter says "we are absolutely losing structures."

5:20 p.m.

The mountains and much of the northwest side of town are hidden by the smoke. Someone Tweets "the west side is like apocalypse."

5:04 p.m.
From the scanner: "I have fire in the valley and it appears to be moving our direction."

4:56 p.m.
From the scanner: "Heavy tankers are dropping water on the bottom floor."

4:30 p.m.
Flames erupt on the face of the mountain near Mountain Shadows -- visible from miles away to the east. Helicopters are dropping water. "OH DEAR GOD.... this is terrifying," someone posts on Twitter.

4:22 p.m.

Mandatory evacuation issued for remainder of Mountain Shadows and Peregrine. Flying W Ranch has already evacuated. It affects about 7,000 people. Estimates are that 12k people are now under a mandatory evacuation.

4:08 p.m.
From the press conference.

Incident commander Steve Harvey: "It's pretty daunting up there."

The fire is moving north up Queen's Canyon, he says. "So we're quite a bit concerned about it."

On the Highway 24 side: "The wind is helping. We’ve made some pretty decent progress along the Highway 24 line."

Further to north, "The fire is starting to move into the reservoir area.  So it has been a challenging day."

"If I told you an acreage right now, it would be wrong in about 10 minutes. It is getting bigger."

"Cedar Heights is actually looking pretty good."

The fire is still at 5 percent containment.

We can expect more of the same for the next 12-15 hours.

Sheriff Terry Maketa: There is no way U.S. 24 will open anytime soon. Smoke can be heavy, and embers are flying around. He also says that mitigation efforts by homeowners in Cascade has "saved properties."

Mayor Steve Bach: We were close this morning to allowing Mountain Shadows residents to return. It's a good thing we didn't. 

4 p.m.
From a statement: "Air Force Academy officials have canceled all July 4th events on base due to the Waldo Canyon fire.  The fireworks display has been cancelled due to dry conditions.  Academy officials feel it is in the best interest of the community to focus all efforts on the continuing firefighting operations."

3:58 p.m.

Rob Deyerberg, fire information officer, says there is "very significant fire activity" in the Queens Canyon area, but there's no conformation of it spreading to the bottom of the canyon. "There may be fire in the very, very top of Queens Canyon. Remember that this is fire combat and things can change."

3:30 p.m.
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb officials released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying they met earlier in the day with Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach and his staff, and came away "cautiously optimistic" the 90th motor race up to the summit of Pikes Peak will take place as scheduled on July 8.

Colorado Sports Corp. President and CEO Tom Osborne, who chairs the Hill Climb board, says: "We are cautiously optimistic concerning the running of the 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on July 8 after an informative and thorough meeting this morning with Mayor Steve Bach and officials from the city of Colorado Springs. We are in consistent touch with these officials, and monitoring the constantly-developing situation related to the wildfires.

“We are grateful for the support of the city and for the efforts of the agencies involved in protecting our community from the fire. Our constant thoughts are with the hundreds of men and women who are in the air and on the ground giving us their best, and with our residents and neighbors.

“In the meantime, our systems for the staging of the race and the ancillary events connected to it are fully operative.”

Sports Corp. spokesman Mike Moran declined to comment on why Hill Climb officials feel "cautiously optimistic."  




3:25 p.m.
Scanner says fire has reached bottom of Queen's Canyon. We are trying to confirm. Joint Information Center says it hasn't heard anything, but notes that info it gets lags behind real-time events. Another piece of scanner chatter said "Heavy flames are coming into canyon."

3:16 p.m.
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa has downgraded the mandatory evacuation order for Crystal Park to voluntary. But he urges residents to stay on top of the situation and be ready to evacuate immediately because of the unpredictability of the weather and fire behavior.

2:55
Colorado Springs Utilities is sending additional dozers to the scene to  help cut fire lines.

2:40 p.m.

More parks and trails are now closed: Pulpit Rock Park, Ute Valley Park, Section 16, & 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.

This is according to scanner traffic at http://www.radioreference.com/apps/audio/?action=wp&feedId=34RT

Meanwhile, spotters report the weather in the fire zone as 97 degrees with 13 percent humidity and winds of 10-15 mph and gusts to 25 mph.

1:57 p.m.

Scanner traffic reports water main break under Chimney Rock Lane, a cul de sac at the farthest west edge of Cedar Heights.

1:47 p.m.

Fountain Fire has determined the cause of Monday's small wildfire was accidental.

The agency tweeted this: "The cause of the fire was a unattended campfire."

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.

A complete list of emergency/evacuation tips can be found here (www.SpringsGov.com/OEM). 

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.


12:30 p.m.

Fire information officer Greg Heule gave a grim prognosis for Tuesday afternoon firefighting efforts: "The entire perimeter of this fire is a concern."

Specifically, Heule mentions Cascade/UtePass, Cedar Heights and Rampart Range Reservoir.

A multiagency investigation is hunting for evidence from Monday's fires in Teller/Park County line.

Fire investigators, however, still can't reach probable point of origin at the Waldo Canyon fire.

"The fire has not allowed us to even get our folks in there to start a preliminary investigation," Heule said before noon.

No arson suspects are custody, and no one is being questioned, Sheriff Ensminger said at noon.

"We have a lot of evidence that's been collected and that evidence is being analyzed as we speak," Ensminger said.

Ensminger said the focus in Teller County is to prevent add'l fires. Increased patrols helping, he said.

He noted the incidents of fires has decreased as sheriff's patrols increased. There have been just 2 fires in three days of stronger police patrols. Before that there were 21 fires in a week's span.

"We've really put a damper on the fires being set, but they're still being set," Ensminger said.

He especially praised Teller County fire volunteers, whom he credited for their work on the 23 fires.

It's still unclear if the Waldo Canyon Firei is related to the Teller County arson fires, Ensminger emphasized.

12:05 p.m.

Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensminger said he "feels good" about his agency's investigation into the possible origin of a series of fires set in the region in the past week or so.


11:53 a.m.

A morsel of good news . . . We may have had a shortage of planes to drop slurry retardant early in the fire. But at least there's plenty of slurry available.

The Denver Post reports there is plenty for fighting the wildfires statewide.

An offiical assured the paper there is no danger crews will run out of the red-tinted slurry being dropped on Colorado wildfires.

"We have no concerns at all about supplies," said Edward Goldberg, fire safety business director for ICL Performance  Products, the contracted supplier to the federal government.

ICL Performance Products is making regular deliveries of liquid retardant concentrate from a plant in southeast Idaho.

Each gallon of phosphate-derived concentrate is mixed with 5½ gallons of water. Once dropped by planes or helicopters, the slurry inhibits trees and vegetation from emitting flammable gases that enable combustion.

"We're busy right now in Colorado, but we're not busy everywhere else," Goldberg of ICL said. "Even if we were busy everywhere, we have a completely adequate supply."

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.

11:29 a.m.

Colorado Springs and El Paso County officials say they are overwhelmed by the generosity of Pikes Peak area residents, figuratively and literally.

Donations are overwhelming the capacity of the fire camp to manage, store and consume them. 

The firefighters are fed daily by a private caterer who provides the firefighters with all the food they require. 

From this point on, please do not bring food or other donated items to the fire camp. You can continue to show support for firefighters by placement of thank you signs on fences and in your yards.  These messages are seen by all firefighters and are greatly appreciated.

Please do not deliver goods of any type to the shelters or to the fire staging areas. These sites are overwhelmed with donations and the management of these donations distracts from the primary goal of public safety. Below is where good donations can be delivered:

  • Care and Share (water and non-perishables), M-F, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m., 2605 Preamble Court
  • Goodwill – Go to discovermygoodwill.org for the list of local donation centers.

The Pikes Peak Community Foundation has created The Waldo Canyon Fire Fighter’s Fund to support the efforts of public and volunteer fire departments in El Paso and Teller Counties.

This fund will provide financial resources for the fire departments working on this effort – supporting any needs that may arise, from food and cots to firefighting equipment – as well as future wildfire mitigation efforts in the Pikes Peak region. Members of the community may support the firefighters by donating online at www.ppcf.org.

The Pikes Peak Community Foundation is also encouraging donors to support the efforts of the local chapter of the American Red Cross to help those displaced by the fire, Pikes Peak Humane Society in their efforts help displaced animals, and Care and Share.

10:55 a.m.

Evacuees jumped at the chance Tuesday to return home and grab some stuff.

Mountain Shadows resident Mark Bachman was among folks at the morning news briefing at Coronado High School who was anxious to hear plans for evacuees.

Bachman wasn't criticizing anyone. He said he fully supports the efforts of the city and U.S. Forest Service battling the Waldo Canyon Fire.

But he did ask Mayor Steve Bach for details about news that evacuees would be allowed to return for 30 minutes to retrieve items. All evacuees must have a police escort and present themselves and identification at the nine police checkpoints in Mountain Shadows to gain entry.

Bachman said he simply wanted to get to his family home on the corner of Ramsgate Terrace and Flying W Ranch Road, across from Chipita Elementary School, to turn off his attic fan and lawn sprinklers.

He stressed he doesn't feel any undue hardship and he's more concerned with other people’s problems than his own.

“There’s 10,000 stories and most of them are worse than mine," Bachman said. "Our problems are pretty minor.”

Bachman praised firefighters and the city for the handling of the situation. He and his wife have been staying in private homes since being evacuated Saturday.

A short time after news that evacuees would return to their homes, fire officials ordered police to stop letting homeowners back into Cedar Heights.

10:35 a.m.

Scanner: "Fire pushing Queens Canyon pretty hard."

Crew in Garden of the Gods confirm: "It appears to be coming up over the ridge."

Spotter: "The fire is doing what it's done every day. Coming right up to the ridge and not over it."

10:32 a.m.

Waldo Canyon Incident Commander orders an immediate end evacuees sneaking back into Cedar Heights to collect personal belongings, according to scanner traffic.

Dispatcher says that no civilians are allowed in Cedar Heights under any circumstances until further notice.

10:23 a.m.

From Inciweb.org release this morning:

Acres: 5,168

Personnel: 500+

Engines: 23

Water Tender: 1

Helicopters: 5

Evacuees: 4,825 (2,599 homes)

Injuries: 0

Structures lost: One, no homes

Cause: Under investigation

10:13 a.m.

Air Force C-130 roars overhead on a direct path to Waldo Canyon Fire

10:11 a.m.

The Waldo Canyon Fire isn't the only game in town, unfortunately,

A grass fire on Colorado’s eastern plains grew from a few acres to 60 square miles in less than a day and damaged at least nine structures, including two homes.

The Last Chance fire started Monday and triggered evacuations in the towns of Last Chance and Woodward, about 60 miles east of Denver.

It was one of at least a half-dozen wildfires burning across the state amid dangerously dry conditions and 100-degree temperatures.

The Waldo Canyon fire has burned more than 7 square miles.

The High Park fire 15 miles west of Fort Collins remained at about 130 square miles and was 55 percent contained. The fire killed one person and destroyed 248 houses, a state record.

Lightning started the fire on June 9.

Some of the other fires burning in Colorado on Tuesday:

— The Little Sand fire had burned 34 square miles 13 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs. It was 29 percent contained.

— The Weber fire six miles south of Mancos had burned 13 square miles and was 10 percent contained.

— The Treasure fire five miles northeast of Leadville had burned about one-half square mile and was also 10 percent contained.


10:04 a.m.

Detail on the first structure burned:

It was a tent platform at the Eagle Lake Campground, a facility owned by the Navigators ministry, which is located in Glen Eyrie.

Gary Cantwell, spokesman for the Navigators, said Eagle Campground has 73 structures including cabins, an infirmary, a horse barn, boat house and luggage barn.

It is located on the west shore of the reservoir, east of Rampart Range Road.

The facility has a dozen tents that are erected for the summer.

The camp and horses were evacuated Saturday when the first eurpted in late morning, Cantwell said.

9:47 a.m.

Rob Deyerberg, a fire information officer in the Joint Information Center for the Waldo Canyon Fire, says there is no  information suggesting that fire lines protecting Cedar Heights haven't held.

He said officials suspect flames above the neighborhood are internal burning -- pockets of fuel that are flaring up.

"Do expect to see flame and smoke that is inside the fire area, but is still inside of their developed lines," Deyerberg said. "There can be pockets of fuel that didn't burn completely during the first time the fire went through there, and now they're starting to burn up."

Meanwhile, fire spotters report flying ash being deposited outside the burn area in Colorado Springs.

In addition, scanner traffic indicates a dozer line is punching north.

9:40 a.m.

Flames visible again above Cedar Heights neighborhood and crews are defending the line according to Dave Rose, spokesman for El Paso County.

9:33 a.m.

Incident command scanner traffic reports 200-foot flames near Cedar Heights. Flames 200 yards from houses. Brush trucks converging. Crews scrambling to scene.

9:27 a.m.

Spotters are reporting weather conditions from the fire scene. From the "north aspect" of the fire, temperature is 87 degrees with winds of 3-4 mph gusting to 10 mph and relative humidity of 18 percent.

Those reports, which can be heard live online at http://www.radioreference.com/apps/audio/?action=wp&feedId=34RT confirm official predictions.

Patrick Cioffi, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said that unfortunately it is going to be hot again.

The highs will be right around 100 which will tie or break the record high set in 1994 of 98 degrees.

There is also a red flag warning between noon and 9 p.m. which is very bad when it comes to fires as it promotes extreme behavior. The characteristics of this red flag warning are winds over 25 miles per hour, a relative humidity below 15% and a concern of dry lighting.

Cioffi said that people need to do any outdoor activites early in the day, stay well hydrated and find air conditioning when possible.

9:25 a.m.

New map of the fire burn is released by the U.S. Forest Service and available online at http://inciweb.org/incident/maps/2929

8:45 a.m.

This from the 8 a.m. news conference at the Command Center at Coronado High School.

The Waldo Canyon Fire claimed its first structure overnight but no homes have been lost and there are no injuries reported yet related to the blaze, which now has burned over 5,168 acres. Containment of the fire remains at 5 percent.

Rich Harvey, U.S. Forest Service incident commander, told an 8 a.m. news conference that fire has not crossed U.S. Highway 24, contrary to reports. And all evacuations remain in place in Cedar Heights, Mountain Shadows and in Ute Pass communities.

“Nothing breached Highway 24 last night,” Harvey said. He credited the volunteer fire crews in Cascade and Green Mountain Falls for holding the critical line overnight.

Harvey stressed that controlling the U.S. 24 corridor would be critical Tuesday, along with Rampart Range Road.

He said fire "slopped over" the key Rampart Range Road overnight, consuming about 200 acres. He said crews will make it a "top priority today" to rein in that hot spot.

Harvey said the Rampart Ridge had to be contained to ensure the safety of large foothills neighborhoods of Cedar Heights, Mountain Shadows, Rockrimmon, Peregrine and the Air Force Academy.

"Their safety is contingent on holding Rampart Ridge," Harvey said.

Stopping the fire's northern spread is also a focus Tuesday, but he offered no predictions due to harsh weather conditions including heat approaching 100 degrees and shifting, gusting winds.

"We expect extreme fire behavior," he said.

Harvey dispelled fears the fire had moved into Queens Canyon, north of the Garden of the Gods.

"Fire is not really in Queens Canyon," he said. "It's on west side of Rampart Range Road" with the exception of the 200 acres of "slop-over."

Besides the eastern movement across Rampart Range Road, the fire moved into Rampart Reservoir area Monday. Crews will be attacking that northwest surge while trying to hold Rampart Ridge and U.S. 24, he said.

Mayor Steve Bach said evacuees from Mountain Shadows will be allowed back in their homes for 30 minutes today under police escort. Escorts are available at nine entrance points. throughout daylight hours. Anyone seeking entrance must show identification.

"We don't want people who don't actually live there," Bach said.

Evacuees should make an appointment for an escort by filling out a form at www.SpringsGov.com, said Cindy Aubrey, the mayor's spokeswoman.

Cedar Heights evacuees can be escorted in on an emergency basis only.

A new map showed fire snaking northwest toward Rampart Reservoir.

The fire's overnight run to the northwest was concentrated in Wellington Gulch and that's where the first structure was lost in the Eagle Lake Campground. There are about 50 or more structures in the campground area.

Mike Smith of the Canon City Fire Department said he believes the structure was a tent platform.

7 a.m. Next media briefing on the fire is in an hour. Some numbers will likely update then, but here's a recap of where things stand now: Size of the fire at last report was 4,500 acres; it's 5 percent contained. Roughly 600 firefighters are battling the blaze. No injuries to date, and no structures burned. About 4,800 people evacuated. The Gazette will be live-streaming the 8 a.m. briefing and another at 4 p.m.; follow at www.gazette.com/live

6:50 a.m. From The Gazette's Paul Berry: "The smoke is crazy thick in Briargate this morning!"

6:20 a.m. Firefighters won't get any relief from the heat today. The National Weather Service forecast calls for a high of 98 degrees. North to northwest winds of 5 to 15 mph, becoming southerly.

6:00 a.m. Care & Share Food Bank is accepting donations between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday. Bring non-perishable items such as canned veggies, fruit, pasta, cereal and soup.

5:53 a.m. Due to the high fire danger, the Town of Palmer Lake will close Emory Hightower Trailhead and Glen Avenue trail access to the Palmer Lake Reservoir, effective at 9 a.m.

5:30 a.m. Smoke is shrouding the high country from horizon to horizon this morning. A few flames can be seen from Queens canyon where flames lit the sky through the wee hours of the morning.

5 a.m. El Paso County Search and Rescue volunteers have reached a pair of cadets that got lost during a hike on Eagle Peak west of the Air Force Academy.

The cadets called for help earlier this morning after losing their way on the peak.

The cadets were unhurt and in cell phone contact with officials through the ordeal.

The academy said the cadets were unprepared for the hike and went up the peak without permission from commanders.

4:39 a.m. Firefighters battled through the night to keep the Waldo Canyon Fire from spreading into Cascade and closer to Highway 24. They succeeded.

The persistent, multi-headed fire continued to spread while entering its fourth day. As of 11 p.m., Colorado Springs Fire Department spokeswoman Sunny Smaldino said the blaze was within a quarter mile of Highway 24.

“That’s too close for comfort for me,” Smalldino said.

El Paso County public information official Lari Sevene said at 4:30 a.m. that she had no knowledge of the fire threatening to cross Highway 24. Sevene said she had no new information regarding the fire.

A media briefing is scheduled for 8 a.m. Tuesday. A flyover at 11 p.m. Monday to get infrared photos would provide more information.

As of Monday night’s update, the fire was five percent contained and covered 4,500 acres.

Still, the towns of Green Mountain Falls, Cascade and parts of western Colorado Springs remain under mandatory evacuation and Highway 24 is closed from Cave of the Winds to Crystola.

Smaldino said before midnight Monday that the outlook wasn’t good for Cascade.

“It’s not a good area with the canyon there,” she said. “That could turn into a chimney.”

There is much dry timber for the fire to feed on, especially as it moves north.

“There’s a lot of timber at the upper elevation and grasses at the lower elevation,” Smaldino said. “It’s just extremely dry and there’s nothing to save those trees.”

Firefighters gained five percent containment Monday, digging in to protect the gated community of Cedar Heights west of Garden of the Gods Park. Second priority is keeping the fire away from property in Cascade, where it loomed dangerously close.

“We’re trying to make these fire lines where they make sense and they’re safe,” Smaldino said. “We’re trying to be very strategic and not put anybody in danger.”

Officials predict the fire will be contained by July 16 but speculate it could double in size with its potential for growth at 3,000-5,000 acres. There is a high rate of spread potential to the north and east, significant spread possible to the west into Cascade and Green Mountain Falls, and south in Cedar Heights.

CSFD crews – 70 Colorado Springs firefighters worked overnight – are working 24-hour shifts to battle the blaze while Type 1 firefighters – the Navy Seals of the business, according to some – go for 18 hours and rest for six, Smalldino said.

“We’ve got 200 to 300 people always working the fire, in rotating shifts 24-7,” Smaldino said. “As we continue to get more resources, the numbers are changing. We’ve got new trucks coming all the time. We’ve ordered up a lot more.”

Officials do not want donations of food or drinks to be delivered to the command center.

“People have been so generous and giving,” Smaldino said, “but we have no place to put what they bring us. We have all the resources we need. We encourage people to take what they want to donate to the Red Cross, Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army.”

Care & Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado is another good place to donate food and drinks.

 

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