Updated: June 28, 2012 at 12:00 am
10:40 p.m. The remains of one person were found in the ruins of a home at 2910 Rossmere Street, Police Chief Peter Carey announced. A second person associated with that address is unaccounted for, he said.
No other details were released Thursday night.
Rossmere Street is in the portion of Mountain Shadows that was put on pre-evacuation notice about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, and hours later was part of the hurried evacuation of neighborhoods north of Chuck Wagon Road.
The areas south of Chuck Wagon Road were evacuated on Sunday.
10:30 Air Force Academy officials announced that residents of its two housing areas will be allowed to return home beginning at 5 a.m. Friday.
Residents of Douglass Valley and Pine Valley neighborhoods were evacuated Tuesday when the fire erupted.
Normal operations will resume at most of the academy on Friday, officials said in a release.
Updated numbers on the fire:
Size: 16,750 (a decrease from a previous report)
Containment: 15 percent
The El Paso County Sheriff's office sent out a release to clarify that the cause of the fire remains unknown.
Undersheriff Paula Presley participated in an interview Thursday with the national ABC News, and comments that were aired during the broadcast were taken out of context and misrepresented the facts, the release said.
Speaking hypothetically, Presley said that if it were an act of arson and the suspect's intent was to burn the forest and set fire to Colorado Springs, then it could be considered an act of domestic terrorism. She also said officials do not yet know the cause and whether or not it was accidental or intentional.
The sheriff's office, and other local, state and federal agencies have dedicated resources to sift through information and follow up on investigative leads.
A city news release said residents in these neighborhoods can return home starting at 8 p.m.:
• Southeast area of Rockrimmon including Golden Hills and Tamarron subdivisions (southeast of Woodmen Rd./Rockrimmon Blvd. to S. Rockrimmon)
• Pine Cliff
• Kissing Camels (East of 30th street from Gateway Road to Garden of the Gods Road)
• Holland Park
• Pleasant Valley
• The apartment complex at Garden of the Gods Road and 30th Street
All other areas remain under mandatory evacuation orders:
• Cedar Heights
• West of 30th Street from Gateway Road to Centennial
• Pinon Valley
• Mountain Shadows
• Rockrimmon (northwest of Woodmen Road/Rockrimmon Blvd. and Vindicator)
Reporter Matt Steiner is covering a community meeting at the evacuation shelter in Divide.
The western line of the fire appears secure after good conditions on Thursday, which is good news for Woodland Park, said Perry Oldenburg, representing incident command.
A critical line is near Monument, Oldenburg said and crews are making "direct attacks" on north and west edges of the blaze. Closer to home, a "contingency" line is being bulldozed from Crystola to Rampart Range Road, west of current fire line, he said.
The Teller County sheriff said that Thursday was third straight day with no arson fire starts in the county.
Officials lifted "a pretty significant area" from mandatory evacuation orders but people are returning to homes that remain under pre-evacuation warning.
Fire officials could not say how many people would be allowed to return as the evacuation orders are lifted. They urged residents to return in an orderly manner.
Effective at 8 p.m., residents of Kissing Camels, Holland Park and lower Rockrimmon may return home. An updated evacuation map will be posted soon on Gazette.com - the El Paso County sheriff is working on descriptions. The map that was shown at the briefing is here, with shaded areas those that remain under mandatory evacuation order.
Garden of the Gods Road will be open in both directions west of Interstate 25 all the way to 30th Street, which is also open.
Cedar Heights, Flying W Ranch, Mountain Shadows and Peregrine areas remain under mandatory evacuation, officials said.
From Gazette reporter John Schroyer:
Micki Trost, PIO for the State Division of Emergency Management, confirmed Thursday that the Waldo Canyon Fire has destroyed more homes than any other in Colorado history.
The preliminary tally of 346 was announced at a news briefing.
From the 4 p.m. news briefing ...
Mayor Steve Bach: According to a preliminary report, 346 residences on about 36 streets have been destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire. These numbers can change.
"We will move forward as a city," he said.
Jerri Marr with the Forest Service said at the news briefing that the fire is 10 percent contained. "Good progress" has been made today, officials said.
Other officials said they expect to lift some mandatory evacuation orders on the east side later tonight. More information will be available after 6 p.m.
There have been no reports of injuries or deaths among fire fighters.
CSPD Deputy Chief Tommy Smith: There havn't been thorough searches in burned structures, those will start tomorrow. There are a small number of people who may be missing.
"This fire is still under investigation" said Jerri Marr with the Forest Service, thanking people for all tips.
The cause will be shared as soon as officials have determined it, she said, adding "No one wants to know that more than me."
On presidential visit: Bach said the Secret Service was told that "we don't have the spare resources to provide security." The visit is appreciated, he said.
A meeting is set for 8 p.m. at UCCS Gallogly Events Center for residents to learn about the status of their homes.
Officials said at the news briefing that busses will leave evacuation shelters at 5:30 p.m. for the meeting, an earlier news release said 6 p.m. Residents should bring identification to gain meeting access. Counselors will be available.
Click here for a map.
Only residents from these streets may attend:
- Capra Way
- Ashton Park Place
- Trevor Lane
- Linger Way
- Rossmere Street
- Tallesson Court
- Sandray Court
- Majestic Drive
- Ravina Court
- Regal View Road
- Stoneridge Drive
- Heartstone Lane
- Karamy Court
- Lionsgate Lane
- Hot Springs Court
- Jenner Court
- Brogans Bluff
- Darien Way
- Rayburn Way
- Braeburn Way
- Timora Way
- Mirror Lake Court
- Wilson Road
- Harbor Pines Point
- Yankton Place
- Chambrey Court
- Charing Court
- Courtney Drive
- Vantage Vista Drive
- Vantage Ridge Court
- Huffman Court
- Aubrey Way
- Van Reen Drive
- Alabaster Way
- Lannigan Street
Stage 2 fire restrictions are in place for the Pike and San Isabel National Forests has gone to Stage 2 fire restrictions, officials announced Thursday.
The forests cover parts of several counties: Chaffee, Clear Creek, Custer, Douglas, Fremont, Huerfano, Jefferson, Lake, Las Animas and Park.
Under Stage II fire restrictions include:
• No open fire, except when using a petroleum stove, grill or lantern with a buffer cleared of all vegetation on all sides for at least three feet.
• Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.
• Possessing or using fireworks or other pyrotechnic device.
• Using an explosive.
• Using any internal or external combustion engine (including chainsaws, ATVs and motorcycles) without a spark arresting device properly working.
• Possessing or using a vehicle off National Forest System Roads, except when parking in areas completely cleared of all vegetation.
For a complete list of restrictions and a map, visit the Forest Service site here.
Mayor Bach will announce times and locations for resident meetings at the 4 p.m. news conference. Access to the meetings is open only to residents whose homes might have been affected. Residents must show their IDs at the door.
Governor John Hickenlooper requested a Federal disaster declaration Thursday in response to the wildfires burning across the state. The Colorado Congressional delegation sought President Barack Obama's support.
Once such a declaration is made, a number of Federal programs to help in response and recovery efforts would be available. Assistance, which could include temporary housing, home repair or replacement, debris removal, repairs to publicly-owned facilities, depends on assessment by state and federal officials
From Gazette reporter John Schroyer:
Colorado Springs Police Department spokeswoman Barbara Miller said Thursday that five or less people had been arrested so far for trying to sneak into areas that had been evacuated due to the Waldo Canyon fire. No reports were official yet, but in speaking with officers, Miller learned that a handful of would-be looters had been taken into custody, she said.
"The CSPD is going to continue to arrest anyone who attempts to go through, around or over the barricade, because their priority is protecting lives and property of people who have been affected by the fire," Miller said.
This from reporter Maria St. Louis-Sanchez:
I just talked to Jeff Papenfuss who lives in Mountain Shadows. His cul-de-sac was saved, but several of his neighbors weren’t as lucky. As best as he can figure, his home would be gone if it weren't for firefighters. He had this to say to them:
"Every time that I step down that hallway and go to check on my kids in the middle of the night, and I hear that loose floorboard creak, I will think of them and how much they worked to save our house. No matters what happens in their lives, they accomplished something that will stay with them forever, and they should feel good about, because they saved our house."
Here's a rundown of Care and Share Food Bank hours over the next few days. It's located at 2605 Preamble Point.
- Friday and Saturday: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Sunday: noon to 7 p.m.
- Monday and Tuesday: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
You can also drop off items at Atlas Preparatory School, 1602 S. Murray Blvd. That location will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the next two days.
Right now, Care and Share needs canned and boxed meals; restaurant-sized cans of fruits and vegetables; snacks; and toiletries. Previously, the food bank said it needed socks, but it has since received enough donations.
From reporter Ryan Maye Handy:
A thunderstorm on the south side of Pikes Peak is pushing gusty winds eastward across Colorado Springs, according to the National Weather Service. The gusts are only expected to last for 20 minutes, meteorologists say. Although firefighters are dealing with winds, the storm is also pouring cool air into the area and raising humidity levels -- both good for firefighters.
The Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo is still on for July 11-14, the board president confirms.
The Independence Center can help disabled people affected by the Waldo Canyon fire. Call 471-8181 or email email@example.com
From Colorado Springs spokeswoman Mary Scott:
There will be a meeting tonight to inform residents whether the Waldo Canyon fire damaged their homes. The location and time will be confirmed at the 4 p.m. press conference. The meeting will be limited to residents in certain areas: It is not open to the public. Invited residents should bring identification.
Gazette.com will have details when available.
Scanner chat: "There will be brief periods of heavy rain."
Here's what Gazette reporter Matt Steiner heard at a Woodland Park community meeting that started at 11:30 a.m.:
- City Manager David Buttery said he's not too concerned about a morning flare-up near Crystola
- Buttery: Wednesday evacuations were the right thing to do, and Woodland Park residents made the process easy
- Buttery: Crews are building a bulldozer line two ridges west of where the fire is burning along Highway 24
- Buttery: At 11:47 a.m., fire was still 1 1/2 miles from Woodland Park near Rampart Reservoir
- Buttery: Three U.S. Forest Service firefighting divisions are working in the Woodland Park area
- Steiner: Pikes Peak Regional Hospital in Woodland Park is in the evacuation area but the emergency room remains open
- Steiner: People in Woodland Park pre-evacuation areas will continue getting normal mail delivery. Post-office box customers can pick up mail at the Divide post office.
- Steiner: 11:30 a.m. Woodland Park meetings and 7 p.m. Divide meetings will continue every day until further notice
- Woman at meeting: Teller County Regional Animal Shelter in Divide still has room and needs help walking dogs
Good news for people affected by the High Park fire up north.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — About 1,900 people who were displaced by a deadly wildfire in northern Colorado were being allowed back into their homes Thursday.
The announcement came as firefighters said they hope to have the 136-square-mile fire completely contained by this weekend.
The High Park Fire erupted June 9 and killed one person and destroyed 257 homes.
Containment stood at 75 percent on Thursday.
All donations Rockies fans make at the team's Friday and Saturday night games at Coors Field will go toward fighting the Waldo Canyon fire.
The Colorado Army National Guard is bringing a Black Hawk helicopter into the fight against the Waldo Canyon fire, according to a press release.
The helicopter and its crew launched Thursday from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. The bucket on the bottom of a Black Hawk can dump nearly 500 gallons of water at a time.
Colorado National Guard crews have also splashed more than 50,000 gallons of water on the High Park fire near Fort Collins, according to the release.
The flight crews are Colorado Army National Guard citizen soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Aviation, according to the release.
Waldo Canyon fire information specialist: "It's an awesome day for firefighting." She cited temperatures that are lower than in previous days.
Another location for Care and Share Food Bank drop-offs: north parking lot of Time Warner Cable, 2221 E. Bijou St. Donations there today will be accepted from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Earlier, Care and Share said it was collecting several items for firefighters: baby powder, eye drops, snacks and new socks.
From The Gazette's Brandy Vasquez:
Atlas Preparatory School is an official Care and Share Food Bank and Red Cross donation site for the next two days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The address is 1602 S. Murray Blvd, and the phone number is 358-7196. This drop off location can handle all items on the Care and Share website, including checks made out to Care and Share or Red Cross. We have people who will be delivering the items to these nonprofits. The idea is to help Care and Share with the abundance of cars it had at its location yesterday.
Gazette reporter Matt Steiner says there's "standing room only" at the Woodland Park community meeting.
From Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau:
"Flying W Ranch is reporting that no cattle were lost in the Waldo Canyon Fire. A convoy of approximately 50 cattle are on the move from Flying W Ranch Road to the Norris Penrose Equestrian Center. If media would like footage and photography, the route taken will be to Woodmen Road, a right on Interstate 25 down to Cimarron Street."
A press release on relocated El Paso County services:
Department of Human Services
- Economic Assistance, including food assistance services will be available at 17 N. Spruce (the old DHS building) beginning at 1 p.m. today
- Child and Adult Protective Services: Caseworkers are taking and working from remote locations. The Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 444-5700 and Adult Abuse and Neglect Intake Line at 444-5755 are staffed and taking calls as usual.
- Public Health's usual information line at 578-3199 will be staffed to answer questions about birth and death certificates, clinics and immunizations.
- Women Infant and Children (WIC): Staff will be offering food vouchers (only for those who are in need of infant formula or need special formula) to clients that usually have appointments at the Citizen Services Center. The alternate location for WIC clients is at 97 Widefield Blvd., Widefield, CO, 80911. The number is 578-3199.
Pikes Peak Workforce Center
- Basic processing for unemployment insurance claims will be available at:
Pikes Peak Workforce Center at the Lorraine Center
301 E. Iowa Avenue
Fountain, Colorado 80817
- Most frequently requested services including search of property records are available online. The office is expected to reopen at the Citizens Service Center on July 3.
Treasurer: Delinquent June tax payments will be accepted without penalty when the Treasurer’s Office reopens at the Citizens Service Center (that's expected to be July 3)
Clerk and Recorder
- All functions except public search of paper documents are available at the three other locations: Southeast (the corner of Airport Road and Powers Boulevard), Union Town Center at 8830 N. Union Blvd., and Centennial Hall at 200 S. Cascade Ave.
The clerk expects to complete the processing of a relatively few remaining uncounted ballots as soon as it is safe to do so.
Note that the Treasurer's Office and Assessor's Office are not planning to open alternate locations.
From reporter Matt Steiner:
Several businesses are closed Thursday in Woodland Park.
Residents around town say the sudden exodus of many from mandatory evacuation areas and others leaving pre-evacuation zones have left businesses short-staffed.
Josh Jennings, who works at Bucks bar in downtown Woodland Park said it had had to close Wednesday because "it was just me and the owner."
"I'm just a cook," Jennings said. "I don't know how to tend bar."
Among those closed that aren't in the mandatory evacuation zone are McDonald's, The Hungry Bear, Joanie's Bakery and Deli, Wells Fargo and all the stores in the Safeway strip, including Subway.
Safeway, Walgreens and City Market remain open, but Wal-Mart, known for its open-every day-but-Christmas policy, is in the mandatory evacuation area and had to close Wednesday.
Colorado Springs is tentatively planning to inform residents between noon and 4 p.m. today whether the fire destroyed their homes. Whether this happens will depend on how soon officials can get an address list of burned homes.
The plan, although not definite, is to invite residents of certain streets to a Thursday afternoon closed meeting. City officials would then provide those residents with an address list of homes that are either destroyed, partially burned or virtually unscathed. City officials will meet privately with people whose homes have been destroyed.
Woodland Park is having a community meeting at 11:30 a.m. at City Hall, 220 W. South Avenue. The city will livestream the event on its website, and cable Channel 10 in the city will also have live coverage.
Gazette reporter Matt Steiner, a Woodland Park resident himself, will report from the meeting. Follow @gazsteiner on Twitter for updates.
From Colorado Springs Communication Specialist Julie Smith: Traffic on Gold Camp Road beyond the intersections of Gold Camp Road and High Drive, and Gold Camp Road and Bonnie Vista Drive is restricted to local residents only for the next several days.
The plan for battling the blaze Thursday, from the official Waldo Canyon Fire Update:
Direct line construction will continue today on the south perimeter to secure this area. Firefighters will continue to construct direct line in the Sand Gulch area. Structure protection will continue along Hwy 24. To the northwest of this line construction, three locations have been identified as contingencies where firefighters would be able to burn off from, if necessary, to protect the community of Woodland Park. A structure protection group will continue preparation work on the east side of Woodland Park today. Crews will work to construct line from the spot fire north of Rampart Reservoir to the southeast to tie in with the main north flank of the fire.
On the east flank, the primary focus is on structure protection, improvement of line construction, fire control and mop-up. Firefighters will provide structure protection and initial attack along the eastern boundary of the fire. These activities and resources are being coordinated with the City of Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy. All resources assigned within Colorado Springs City limits will be under the direction of the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Structure protection will continue at Eagle Lake Camp. Firefighters are securing and holding the line from Rampart Reservoir south to Rampart Range Road. Crews will continue structure protection in Cedar Heights subdivision and construct line from the quarry north to the castle.
Thinking of shooting off some fireworks despite the ban? A warning from the Colorado Springs Police Department: Due to the extreme fire hazard this year, the City has adopted a Zero Tolerance policy concerning the possession and/or use of fireworks. This means if we respond to a call for service and apprehend any individual in possession of or using fireworks within the City limits, they will be issued a summons to appear in Court. This effort is in conjunction with the open fire ban, which is in place within the State of Colorado.
Citizens are reminded that it is a violation of City Ordinance to possess and/or use fireworks. A conviction for such a violation may carry a fine of up to $500 and/or 90 days in jail. If property damage or injury occurs as a result of such a violation the perpetrator may be charged with the Colorado State statute of Arson.
Woodland Park is having a community meeting at 11:30 a.m. Gazette reporter Matt Steiner will be there.
From the morning media briefing: "We now know hundreds of homes have been destroyed," Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said. Officials are working to get accurate information, he said; a more precise number could be coming as early as noon.
No more structures were lost overnight and no new evacuation orders were issued.
Jerri Marr of the U.S. Forest Service reported good progress in the battle against the fire.
"We have not lost hope ... We have nothing but hope."
While Wednesday was a good day, officials said, Thursday is expected to be better. Growth of the fire has slowed, said Rich Harvey, incident commander, with the number of acres burned remaining at 18,500.
"Today, we are going to be incredibly aggressive on this fire," he said. There are 1,200 firefighters engaged against the blaze.
"We remain focused on the entire fire," he said. Containment is still at five percent, but that should improve dramatically Thursday, he said. The weather is expected to cooperate a bit, he said, though it will still remain hot and dry with a chance for erratic winds from thunderstorms.
Crews are out attacking spot fires, Harvey said. "There's not a tool we won't use to protect property and lives," he said.
There is still no information on the cause of the fire.
The blaze, Bach said, shows the need for continued fire mitigation efforts "This is a huge wake-up call," he said.
The Community Animal Response Team (CART) at Cheyenne Mountain High School continues to accept pets displaced by the Waldo Canyon fire. The CART shelter needs additional wire crates to house animals, especially large and extra-large sizes to accommodate big dogs.
Tweet frrom The Gazette's Ryan Maye Handy: New fire map up--doesn't look like #waldocanyonfire grew much last night.
Scanner traffic: Another water-main break in Cedar Heights area: Monitor Rock Lane.
Morning media briefing in less than an hour. Here's where things stood at last update: 18,500 acres burned. Containment still at 5 percent. About 32,000 people evacuated. Possibly 300 or more homes destroyed. Cause of the fire unknown. Cost of battling the blaze so far: $3.2 million.
Watch a live streaming of the media briefing at gazette.com/live.
Fire information official said he didn't have latest information on flare-up near Blodgett and Woodmen, but said it appears to be a normal flare-up.
Scanner traffic: "Something blowing up at Blodgett and Woodmen."
Power has been restored to 704 Colorado Springs Utilities customers near the Nevada-Fillmore area.
Fear and uncertainty grip many Colorado Springs residents who still don’t know if their home has been destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire.
The Colorado Springs Fire Department began canvassing neighborhoods Wednesday, particularly Mountain Shadows, to determine which houses survived. Sources have estimated that as many as 300 homes were destroyed in Tuesday's firestorm and more homes have burned since.
Even though they are out of harm’s way, all displaced people are anxious for news of their family home. For many, the memories of a lifetime are in that house. It’s the place where their children grew to adulthood, where they shared holidays and birthdays, where their lives were spent.
Now they hope it’s not a pile of ashes.
When will folks find out? It’ll be at least a few days, it seems.
Former fire chief Steve Cox, who now serves as Mayor Steve Bach’s chief economic vitality officer, said officials are still assessing the damage and plan to hold neighborhood meetings to inform residents whether their houses survived before making a public announcement. He didn’t have a timeline for a final tally of the damage or when homeowners would be notified.
While some hope for the best, others fear the worst.
El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark, who represents the district that is burning, preached patience to displaced citizens, which number about 32,000.
Clark viewed the Mountain Shadows neighborhood on Wednesday and spoke of the “active fire” that still existed and the extreme danger that would confront anyone returning to the area.
Police have blocked off neighborhoods that are under mandatory evacuation, while providing security for the abandoned homes.
Bach said he toured Flying W Ranch on Wednesday morning and that there was little left of the beloved institution.
“It’s gone,” Bach said. “Everything is scorched.”
Incident commander Rich Harvey said the strong and shifting winds have made the fire unpredictable, with the fire burning south one day, west the next and east after that.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve never seen a (fire) progression like that,” Harvey said.
Firefighters from cities throughout Colorado streamed into the city to join the battle. Firefighters reported saving many homes and other structures inside the fire’s perimeter, but unpredictable thrusts of the fire meant that others were left to burn.
Harvey said fire crews have generally been able to confine the fire inside the existing perimeter in northwestern Colorado Springs, while continuing to preserve structures and unburned areas within the fire zone.
Question is, how long will the blaze burn? And how much more damage will it do?
“Wednesday was definitely a quieter day but we still don’t have containment improvement,” said city spokeswoman Mary Scott. “The weather is causing problems and keeping them from getting it under control.”
Scott said overnight emphasis was on preserving structures in the northwest part of town, protecting the line at Rampart Reservior and north of Highway 24.
The containment date listed on the incident website remains July 16. Increasingly weary firefighters have yet to suffer a fatality or injury, and no citizens are reported hurt from the fire.
To accommodate displaced citizens, the Red Cross is operating evacuation shelters at Lewis Palmer High School, Cheyenne Mountain High, the Southeast YMCA and Summit Elementary School in Divide.