WALDO CANYON FIRE: Crews dread possible repeat of Tuesday's weather

By: RYAN MAYE HANDY
June 27, 2012
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Wednesday's weather is expected to be worse than the eastward flowing thunderstorms that created the firestorm that erupted in Colorado Springs neighborhoods on Tuesday, fire crews and officials said. Wednesday.

Although air temperatures were cooler Wednesday, thunderstorms blowing in from Teller County are expected to stir winds over the burgeoning and erratic Waldo Canyon fire. It's the unpredictable winds that fire crews and incident commanders are most worried about.

Wednesday's plan includes an air attack that will shoot high flames with retardant, allowing ground crews to get in and knock down smaller flames, usually three feet high, said Norm Rooker, a fire information officer.

"It's going to be interesting to see with the weather system coming in this afternoon. If we get the break, we can maintain the handle and hold it," said Rooker. "If we get another event like yesterday, all we'll do is the best we can."

In a firestorm fueled by high winds, the best thing that a fire crew can do is stay out of the way, and stay safe.

"When that flame front is coming at you, and it seems like it's going to the sky, all you can do is get out of the way," said Rooker.

The fire continues to consume the terrain with three heads, one moving southwest, one to the northeast, and another to the north.

Winds from the east and southwest pummeled the fire Tuesday, pushing it up canyons and east into Colorado Springs. Multi-directional gusts could blow in with Wednesday's storm as well, pushing the fire at its weakest points, the southwest flank near Woodland Park and and the northeast flank, running behind the Air Force Academy.

Communities in the path of the three heads also are getting pre-evacuation and evacuation notices. Sections of Woodland Park have been issued mandatory evacuations; Monument is on pre-evacuation as are portions of southwest Douglas County. 

And pre-evacuation notices have been sent to areas around West Colorado Avenue and 31st Street. 

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