June 29, 2012
FRIDAY JUNE 29 UPDATES
From the evening briefing:
Brett Waters: Crews have been working diligently to get people back in their homes, safely. Some evacuations are still in place because of utility lines were damaged in the fire. Due to the curving nature of the streets and the age of some of the systems they cannot be turned off in in easy blocks of houses.
Cedar Heights residents can go home at 9 a.m.; they will remain on notice to evacuate if the situation changes.
In other areas the evacuation is lifted immediately.
** We did our best to keep up with the streets as they were talked about at the press conference. We will update this list as we get detailed information from the city.
The Glen Eyrie area, including the Navigators property, will be open.
Streets east of 30th Street and north of Garden of the Gods Road are open.
Streets east of Centennial Boulevard - aside from a few streets listed below.
South Rockrimmon area - open
North Rockrimmon area - open
Unincorporated Woodmen Valley (streets north of Woodmen Road, such as Westwood Road, Northfield Road, Southfield Road, Timber Valley Road)
* Garden of the Gods
* The Grand Centennial complex
* Reed Ranch
* Crested Butte Circle
* Mocassin Pass Court
* Rendezvous Trail
* Bluffside Terrace
* Orchard Valley Road - and the streets that branch off it
* Centennial Boulevard as it winds through the Pinon Valley area
The Town of Monument, in conjunction with the Monument Hill Kiwanis and the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, has postponed the Fourth of July Parade and the Downtown Street Fair until a date to be determined due to the fire danger, air quality, and the expected use of Monument emergency services in support of fire suppression.
Colorado Springs Police tweeted that they have identified the idenities of the two Waldo Canyon fire victims in the Rossmere Drive home and are notifying next of kin.
Well over 70 animals have been rescued from homes in the mandatory evacuation areas since Wednesday, and animal control officers from Pueblo, Centennial and Douglas County are helping with the rescues, said Sgt. Ken Gingrich an animal control officer.
Gingrich said cats are the most common pet rescued. He said rescues are made at the request of the pet’s owner, and a house key must be provided.
Fort Carson fire fighters and soldiers continue to support efforts to prevent the Waldo Canyon Fire from spreading to the city of Colorado Springs.
While soldiers clear swaths of land to contain the fire, Fort Carson fire fighters, working with the U.S. Air Force Academy Fire Department, are extinguishing spot fires and conducting controlled burns to safely remove litter and vegetation that could act as fuel to the ongoing wildfire.
While maintaining operations on post, the Fort Carson Fire Department continues to provide the following support to El Paso County and the City of Colorado Springs:
- 8 FCFD personnel and 4 fire engines providing support to the USAFA.
- 4 FCFD personnel and one fire engine supporting fire fighting efforts in the town of Cascade.
- 4 FCFD personnel, one fire engine and one truck backfilling the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
In the past 72 hours, U.S. Army engineers from the 4th and 52nd Engineer Battalions, and support Soldiers from 43rd Sustainment Brigade, have cleared nearly 25 kilometers of land, constructing fire breaks to prevent the Waldo Canyon Fire from spreading across USAFA grounds. Working under the direction of USAFA fire fighters, the team of engineers has constructed multiple firebreaks approximately eight to 100 feet in width.
At the height of support efforts, as many as 128 Fort Carson soldiers deployed to the USAFA to cut fire breaks. Currently, 114 Soldiers are supporting the mission, operating the following equipment:
- 10 bulldozers
- 4 heavy earth excavators
- one grader
- 6 heavy equipment transport vehicles
Approximately 550 Soldiers, assigned to Task Force Raider, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, are undergoing wild land fire fighting training to potentially serve as ground firefighters to boost the number of firefighters available for wildfire suppression throughout the nation. This training is being conducted under the direction of instructors from the National Interagency Fire Center, June 29-July 1, on Fort Carson. These soldiers are completing certification training in the event they are called upon to assist in national fire fighting efforts.
Military personnel and Fort Carson agencies continue to provide housing, meals and medical care at emergency shelters and lodging on post for more than 110 displaced service members and their families.
WOODLAND PARK — City and Teller County officials were optimistic Friday as Waldon Canyon fire containment numbers continued to rise — but not enough to change the status of any evacuations or pre-evacuations.
“We’re not going to make that decision until we’re as sure about their safety as we can be,” said Woodland Park Mayor Dave Turley. “We’re being cautious, not overly cautious, and that’s where I want to be. We’re not out there making panicky decisions.”
He and Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensminger told residents at a Friday morning meeting that the evacuation statuses would be re-evaluated daily.
City officials have announce an 8 p.m. briefing where they are expected to lift some evacuation orders.
Here is the updated information on the county's Disaster Recovery Center, which opens 9 a.m. Saturday at 105 N. Spruce St.:
The county has been working with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Division of Emergency Management to provide a central location where residents can access services ranging from assistance in filing insurance claims to grief counseling and rebuilding.
The Disaster Recovery Center will be located at the former El Paso County Department of Human Services building. It will be open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The center will include resources from:
• Pikes Peak Regional Building Department
• Goodwill Industries
• El Paso County Housing Authority
• Care and Share Food Bank
• El Paso County Public Health
• El Paso County Veterans Services
• Pikes Peak United Way
• Peak Vista Community Health Centers
• Colorado Springs Utilities
• Colorado Springs Human Resources
• Pikes Peak Workforce Center
• Colorado Division of Unemployment
• Colorado Division of Local Affairs
• El Paso County Department of Human Services
• Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management
• Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association
• Safeco Insurance
• Office of the Colorado Insurance Commissioner
To call the Disaster Recovery Information call 719-444-8300 or go to
For other questions related to the Waldo Canyon Fire Call the Waldo Canyon Fire Information Center at: 720-237-3417 or 720-237-9947.
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs will provide housing for up to 100 wildland firefighters completing their shifts combatting the Waldo Canyon Fire beginning Friday night.
UCCS will provide the firefighters with space in Summit Village complete with housekeeping services, refrigerators and access to Internet and television in common areas. Care and Share will provide them with donated toiletry articles, food, and other services.
“We are pleased to provide this space to the heroes of this community,” Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said. “We recognize the sacrifice that many have made to help our community in its time of need. This is a way the university can say thank you.”
At the peak of the Waldo Canyon Fire evacuations, UCCS housed more than 350 evacuees including 200 U.S. Air Force Academy cadets. The cadets are expected to return to the USAFA late Friday afternoon and many evacuees were allowed to return to homes on the west side of Colorado Springs Thursday night.
UCCS provided Colorado Springs residents evacuated from their homes with three nights housing at no charge. Individuals who need housing for more than three nights will pay reduced rates for up to a one week additional stay.
Here is the information on the bus tours for the residents of neighborhoods impacted by the Waldo Canyon fire:
The initial bus trips to view properties will take place on Sunday and Monday, contingent upon continuing authorization from the Federal Incident Management Team. Sunday’s trips will include all neighborhoods south of Chuckwagon Road to 30th Street and west of Centennial; Monday will include neighborhoods north of Chuckwagon Road to Denton Grove Road and west of Centennial. Each street will be assigned a specific time. A detailed schedule with the times and streets will be released tomorrow, along with information regarding accommodations for those with limited mobility. We respectfully ask that you refrain from calling with questions until this information has been publicized.
Escorted rides through the area will accommodate all property owners (destroyed, damaged and still standing) in the affected area. The meeting point for the trips is Coronado High School. You will receive a briefing inside the school before boarding the bus.
Due to continued active fire conditions, no one will be allowed to get off the bus.
Space is limited; please use your best judgment.
Monument residents are receiving reverse 911 calls to remind them of the pre-evacuation status in that area, Colorado Springs officials just tweeted. Those residents do not yet face a mandatory evacuation.
From the afternoon briefing: Steve Cox of the mayor's office: Starting Sunday, bus tours will go into evacuated areas carrying those people displaced. "You'll be able to look at your property." But people shouldn't expect to get off the bus and inspect their homes.
The city, he said, is poised to release the list of homes destroyed and their addresses.
Police Chief Pete Carey: The body of a second victim has been discovered in the ruins of a home where a first victim was found Thursday. The family has been notified.
"Our heart goes out to the family," Mayor Steve Bach said.
Utilities said gas still off at Mountain Shadows, Peregrine and Oak Valley. Utilities says safety is number one concern. Utilities crews were allowed into evacuated areas Thursdy to start restoring services, but they were pulled out Friday.
Jerri Marr of the Forest Service: Containment has increased to 25 percent. Progress is being made, she said, but there is still a long way to go.
Rich Harvey, incident commander: The size of the fire did not increase Friday. The only thing that grew was containment. No firefighter injuries, no more structures lost. Air support is adequate. Effort remains focused on the perimeter of the fire; can't commit forces to interior of fire yet.
"The perimeter has stayed exactly where it's at for the past two days," Harvey said. Some crews will be sleeping on fire lines Friday night to ensure they hold, he said.
Harvey said the visit by President Barack Obama caused no disruption other than a five-minute break when he talked to firefighters who were working.
Cause of the fire remains unknown. The U.S. Forest Service has brought in a "cause and origin specialist," but that specialist hasn't been able to penetrate the fire perimeter.
A person was arrested earlier this week for impersonating a firefighter, Carey disclosed.
The cost of fighting the fire is at $6.2 million.
The Colorado Springs Police Department are asking residents to stop calling about entering evacuation zones.
The police communications center has been inundated with calls from residents interested in learning when they can return to their homes, limiting their ability to address emergency calls.
Changes in evacuation orders will be released by the Joint Information Center. The public can call the JIC at: (719) 520-7058; 1-720-402-7935; 1-720-202-4510; 1-720-237-9947; and 1-720-237-3417.
Ann Rys-Sikora, public information officer with the Forest Service, said she anticipates more of the mandatory evacuated neighborhoods to be downgraded to pre-evacuation status at Friday's 4 p.m. briefing.
Douglas County Fairgrounds is no longer serving as a fire evacuation shelter for animals. All animals currently at the fairgrounds must be picked up by 5 p.m. on Monday.
The list of burned homes will be posted on www.springsgov.com when the final six homeowners are contacted. Of the 346 estimated homes destroyed by the fire, 340 owners have been in touch with city officials.
Thunder and increased winds got the attention of fire officials but no change in firefighting strategy is anticipated.
"We got 30 percent chance of thunder cells in the area and perhaps right over the fire," said Forest Service Public Information Officer Ann Rys-Sikora. "Storms can cause erratic winds and we're monitoring that closely."
“There could be a few sprinkles (later today), but anything that does fall would be on the light side - less than a tenth of an inch - but we are watching it very closely," said Patrick Cioffi from the National Weather Service in Pueblo. "If something were to form near the burn area, flooding could easily occur.”
President Obama has left Colorado Springs after visit that included a brief stop at the fire evacuation shelter at the southweast YMCA.
New Life Church will be distributing bottled water, non-perishable food, snacks, pet food, blankets, diapers, baby food, toiletries, fresh produce and other necessities on Saturday, June 30 in the church's activity center.
Families impacted by the Waldo Canyon fire may pick up supplies from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or until supplies run out.
The activity center is at the northeast corner of the main church building, 11025 Voyager Parkway.
Most of the items were donated by Gleaning for the World, a Virginia-based organization that provides supplies to areas around the world affected by disaster.
Brady Boyd, senior pastor of New Life Church, said the church is working closely with Colorado Springs relief groups to ensure that local organizations have what they need.
Here are numbers from the National Fire Information Center as of today:
- 27,176 fires have been reported this year
- 52 active fires are categorized as "large" fires
- 7 "large" fires are burning in Colorado
From Gazette reporter Andy Wineke, pool reporter with presidential motorcade
Before leaving the airport, President Obama spoke to Forest Service incident commander Rich Harvey. Harvey said Obama thanked him for the firefighters' hard work.
"I said, 'Thank you for your support,'" Harvey said.
The presidential motorcade sped down Garden of the Gods Road, past knots of people snapping pictures and a pair of children holding a sign that read "Save Colorado."
Once the motorcade entered the evacuated area, it began to pass stretches of charred grass. Turning left onto Flying W Ranch Road, the vehicles passed homes burned to the ground, with water shooting from melted pipes. Burned-out cars stood in driveways. Everywhere, fences were torn down and thrown into the street. Smoke was visible from the area around Blodgett Peak to the north.
The motorcade stopped at Majestic Drive, now a line of blackened foundations, and the President got out to speak with firefighters.
Obama shook firefighters' hands and posed for a group photo.
Obama pointed at three houses that were still standing amid the destruction. He asked a firefighter, "What did you guys do to protect these homes? Give me a sense of how you went about it."
The firefighter described dousing the homes with water, and the decision to let some homes burn. "There was so much heat from that house, we couldn't protect that."
Obama asked "How different is what you guys are doing here from what you normally do?"
The firefighter answered, "It's totally different. We do have some training for this."
Obama was stunned by the damage.
"I tell ya what, those families, you made a difference in their lives," he said to firefighters.
"You have a house that's cinders. Next to it, it's untouched," he said in front of a burned home near other homes left alone.
"We are so grateful to see the" coordination going on here.
"This community is obviously heartbroken" and we're lucky we haven't seen greater loss of life.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with" the families.
"We need a little bit of help from mother nature," he said.
Obama said with natural disasters, like tornadoes and flooding in Florida, it is amazing how the American people band together.
The president praised the coordination between local, state and federal officials, particularly citing the use of some military assets in fighting the Waldo Canyon Fire.
"When these things happen, we pull together as one American family," the he said.
"Mr. Mayor, you have done an outstanding job," Obama told Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach.
The presidential motorcade is departing Fire Station No. 9.
President Obama briefly spoke about the fire at Fire Station No. 9. Eventually, they're going to need some help from mother nature to get this fire extinguished, he said.
Obama praised firefighters and said officials are already talking about lessons learned.
"We can provide all of the resources but what we can't do is supply them with the courage ... The folks involved in this are genuine heroes. I hope you're reminded by how important our fire departments and our forest services are," he said.
Read his remarks here.
Presidential motorcade pulled into the Colorado Springs Fire Station 9 on Garden of the Gods Road, the main staging area for crews working on the fire.
Rich Harvey, incident commander for the Waldo Canyon fire, and Jerri Marr, forest supervisor for the Pike and San Isabel forests both earned pats on the back from President Barack Obama after he greeted them at the Colorado Springs Airport.
Sen. Michael Bennet and Congressman Doug Lamborn traveled with him from Washington.
Obama also greeted Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach; Governor John Hickenlooper; Sen. Mark Udall; U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell; Gen. Charles Jacoby, NORAD-NORTHCOM commander; Gen. William Shelton, Air Force Space Wing commander; and Col. Chris Crawford, 21st Space Wing commander.
Air Force One has landed in Colorado Springs, and shortly thereafter authorities were clearing Interstate 25 for the motorcade.
President Barack Obama is enroute to tour the fire area with Mayor Steve Bach, Governor John Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall via motorcade.
Mountain Metropolitan Transit fixed-route 14 is back in service, with modifcations. The area west of Chestnut Street will not be serviced.
From the official fire website: An interior island of unburned fuel, well within the fire perimeter and within the burn area will soon ignite. Residents of Colorado Springs will soon see a column of smoke. The area that will burn is approximately 800 acres and about 2 air miles from Colorado Springs. Since this area is well within the area that has already burned, there is no danger to residents.
All eight MAFFs equipped C-130 will soon be fighting fires in Colorado. The Forest Service made the request Friday. Four such planes have already been working on fires in the state.
"The last time all eight units were fighting together was 2008" in California, said Ann Skarban, civilian spokeswoman for 302nd wing at Peterson Air Force Base.
Officials are working on setting up a bus tour for residents of the affected Mountain Shadows area. It would be sometime Saturday, but a time hasn't been set, according to Anne Rys-Sikora, a spokeswoman with the Joint Information Center.
Police scanner traffic indicates 40 homes in the burn area have been broken into.
Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region has been granted permission by emergency officials to go into certain restricted evacuation areas to rescue pets left behind. Call 473-1741 x1.
Some areas will see normal mail delivery resume Friday, although other delivery remains on hold in other areas still under evacuation orders. Delivery will continue to change based on discussions with emergency officials.
- All operations out of the Air Force Academy, 80840, have returned to normal
- If you live in the Kissing Camel area, 80904, mail delivery will resume today.
- The lower Rockrimmon 80919 area has been reopened and carriers will attempt delivery when passable.
- If you receive mail out of North End Station, 80907, mail delivery will resume today.
- If you receive mail out of Rockrimmon Station, 80919/80949, and you are in the mandatory evacuation area, mail will be available for pickup at Templeton Station, 4356 Montebello Dr. Hours are from 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., phone (719) 266-6033.
- If you live in the Cedar Heights area, 80904, mail pickup will be at the Colorado Springs West End Retail Unit located at 204 S, 25th St 80904. Hours are 8:30-5:30, phone 473-6513.
- The Woodland Park Post Office, 80863/80866, and the Green Mountain Falls Post Office, 80819, have been relocated to Divide, 66 S. Hybrook Road. Hours of service are 8 a.m.–5 p.m., phone 687-5187.
- If you live in Cascade, 80809, mail pickup will be at the Colorado Springs, West End Retail Unit, located at 204 S 25th St 80904. Hours are 8:30-5:30, phone 473-6513.
Electronic change of addresses can be filed online here or by calling 1-800-275-8777. Change of Address forms are also available at area Post Offices
Postal officials advise evacuees to file a change of address even if they are going to be at a temporary location for a brief time. They will be able to file additional changes as they move to different locations
Woodland Park Mayor Dave Turley returned from his morning meeting with Teller County officials Friday and said people will not be allowed to return to their homes on Friday, but the situation will be re-evaluated daily.
Turley was optimistic after morning reports that fire crews were making progress establishing strong lines around the Waldo Canyon fire. But the mayor, and his staff, want to make sure that once people return to mandatory evacuation areas, they will not have to leave again.
"We're not going to make that decision until we're as sure about their safety as we can be," Turley said. We're being cautious, not overly cautious, and that's where I want to be. We're not out there making panicky decisions."
The focus of both Woodland Park and Teller County officials is on fire lines from U.S. Highway 24 to Rampart Range Road and activity in the region around Rampart Reservoir.
Lines along 24 are about three miles east of the Woodland Park line while U.S. Forest Service spokespeople have told Teller residents the last two days that lines near the reservoir are about a mile and half from the town of about 7,600 people.
Tuesday night's disaster on the western side of Colorado Springs still echoes in the minds of officials west of the Waldo Canyon fire lines, and the close proximity to Teller County homes has Turley, city manager David Buttery and Teller Sheriff Mike Ensminger cautious of making a premature decision.
“Those fire lines are so close," Turley said. "If you just get winds in the wrong direction, things can go very wrong.”
Commerce Center Drive, north from East Woodmen to Pine Creek Drive, has been re-opened to businesses and residents.
All other areas remain under Mandatory Evacuation:
• Cedar Heights
• West of 30th Street from Gateway Road to Centennial
• Pinon Valley
• Mountain Shadows
• Rockrimmon (northwest of Woodmen Rd./Rockrimmon Blvd. and Vindicator)
Pre-Evacuation warnings for all of Douglas County have been cancelled, Douglas Regional 9-1-1 announced late Friday morning.
Residents must still maintain situational awareness, the release said, telling residents that if they are in danger they should not wait for an evacuation order. Fire dangers remain highs and a pre-evacuation warning can be reinstated if conditions deteriorate.
Several fire victims said on social media channels Thursday night that ADT was charging a $300 cancellation fee for their destroyed homes. The company said later that same night to waive the fee.
“ADT recognizes the severity of the Waldo Canyon fire and our hearts go out to people who have had homes damaged or destroyed. We will give individual attention to every family affected by the fire and will stand ready to work with our customers when they enter the rebuilding process," said Bob Tucker, ADT public relations director.
ADT asks customers affected by the fire to contact them at Customerconcerns@adt.com.
Friday's firefighting effort: Crews will be working extensively in the West Monument Creek area, which provides the majority of the Colorado Springs water. Bulldozers will be used to construct contingency lines along Mount Herman Road.
El Paso County will open a Disaster Recovery Center starting Saturday that will bring together on-profit and governmental agencies offering help to all residents impacted by the Waldo Canyon fire.
The Center will open at 9 a.m. Saturday at the former El Paso County Department of Human Services building, 105 N. Spruce Street.
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs is helping to set up the Disaster Recovery Center. The central location will allow residents to access insurance companies and get information from groups including the County Health Department, Regional Building, Pikes Peak Behavioral Health, Veterans Services and United Way.
From morning briefing: Jerri Marr of the U.S. Forest Service: Thursday, "we had great weather. It looks like we're going to have that same weather today."
"Great strides" were made, Marr said. Containment is at 15 percent. That's a lot, she said, based on the terrain involved. That number should grow Friday. "We're going to make a lot of progress."
Rich Harvey, incident commander: No perimeter growth Thursday night, no more structures lost. There's stilll one pocket above Cave of the Winds where they're not able to get ground troops in. They have eyes in the sky on that area.
More aircraft from the military will be joining firefighting efforts here and against other fires in the state. A new fire in Grand Junction is a worry.
One person has been killed in the Waldo Canyon fire. Police Chief Pete Carey said a "relatively small amount of people" are unaccounted for - fewer than 10.
El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen said a disaster recovery center will open Saturday morning at the former Department of Human Services, 105 N. Spruce St.
A cause remains unknown; investigators have been unable to get onto the scene.
Officials assured Friday's visit by President Barack Obama will not interfere with operations. Road blocks will be "extremely limited" compared to what one might normally see with a presidential visit.
Any changes to evacuation orders will be announced as soon as those decisions are made. The safety of firefighters and the public is the key factor in deciding when to lift evacuation orders.
From the official Waldo Canyon Fire Update:
Firefighters reported little activity on the fire last night as humidity levels remained high. They were not able to perform planned burnout operations needed to reinforce lines already constructed due to these conditions. Hand crews constructed direct line at the top of the fire, east of Hwy 24. In the burned area of Colorado Springs, firefighters assisted City firefighters with mop-up of non-structural materials. Strong wind gusts tested lines in the lower Queens Canyon last night, with the lines holding.
An hour until morning media briefing. Here's a recap from last report: The Waldo Canyon fire that erupted Saturday has burned 16,750 acres and is 15 percent contained. One person has been killed. Nearly 350 homes destroyed, making it the most destructive fire in state history. Personnel fighting the fire: 1,118. Cost of battling the fire to date: $5.2 million. Cause remains under investigation.
Firefighters face temperatures in the 90s Friday, but at least it won't be as brutally hot as it was early in the week. The National Weather Service forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3 p.m. Mostly sunny with a high near 92. Calm wind becoming south southeast between 5 and 10 mph.
From the Air Force Academy: The academy has resumed normal operations. Personnel should contact chain of command for reporting instructions.
Detailed searches of the devastation for missing people in Mountain Shadows and the Flying W Ranch neighborhoods will resume Friday morning, Day 7 of the Waldo Canyon fire, officials said.
Also, residents of two Air Force Academy neighborhoods and the enlisted dormitories who were evacuated Tuesday will be allowed to return home beginning at 5 a.m. Friday.
The remains of one person was found in the ruins of a home on Rossmere Street, and a second resident of that home remained unaccounted for, officials said late Thursday. Earlier, Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey said fewer than 10 people were unaccounted for in the areas that were hit by explosive flames on Tuesday afternoon.
As officials continue to take the toll of the brutal Waldo Canyon fire, they also prepared for a visit Friday by President Barak Obama. He is expected to tour some of the damaged areas and be briefed by officials.
The city of Colorado Springs said in a release late Thursday that it would release a list of lost and damaged properties mid-morning on Friday. The list of impacted properties and a map will be posted to SpringsGov.com once available.
Check back at gazette.com for updates throughout the day Friday.