Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content WALDO CANYON FIRE: Containment hits 55 percent

TOM ROEDER Updated: July 1, 2012 at 12:00 am

10:20 p.m. In a Tweet from a local restaurant that shows the celebrity of the woman who has become the face of the Waldo Canyon fire effort: "From 6/29, so it's there next time you go! RT @HerStoryCafe New Menu Item for tomorrow's Grand Opening: Jerri Marr Sandwich Platter $10"

10:10 p.m. MOUNTAIN SHADOWS UPDATE AS OF SUNDAY NIGHT:

Mandatory Evacuation status remains in place for Mountain Shadows from south of Wolfe Ranch Rd. and west of Flying W Ranch Rd. to 30th St., and for the following streets east of Flying W Ranch Road:

Capra Way

Centauri Rd

Chambrey Ct

Champagne Dr

Chase Point Cir

Darien Way

Eileen Ct

Granby Cir

Green Valley Hts

Holister Ct

Hot Springs Ct

Huffman Ct

Lions Gate Ln

Majestic Dr

Mirror Lake Ct

Ramsgate Ter

Regal View Ct

Regal View Rd

Russett Oak Ct

Vanreen Dr

Vantage Ridge Ct

Vantage Vista Dr

Via Verona Vw

Wilson Rd

Chuckwagon Road commencing 500 feet west of Claystone Lane and extending westward to the city limit.

10:05 p.m. Teller County Sheriff's Office confirms two fires in the county today, but there's good news. They were started by a faulty transformer and a downed wire, not the firebug. The two were put out fast.

9:13 p.m. El Paso County Environmental Services and Public Health are helping residents displaced by the Waldo Canyon Fire dispose of any food waste after many residents lost power for long periods of time.  Waste Management donated eight 30-yard dumpsters and two drivers to help with the effort. On Sunday, more than 50 tons of food waste was discarded.

On Monday, residents can drop off food waste at Woodmen Roberts Elementary School, 8365 Orchard Path Road, and at Eagleview Middle School, 1325 Vindicator Drive, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

8:30 p.m. From fire commanders: "Crews will continue to patrol communities along Highway 24 and along the southeast perimeter of the fire tonight."

8 p.m. Firefighting costs don't even come close to describing what the Waldo Canyon fire has done to Colorado Springs, but here's the latest figure: $11.1 million

7 p.m. Reporter Dena Rosenberry was in Colorado Springs parks this afternoon. Here's what she found: "People were filtering back to the dog park at Palmer and visitors clutching cameras were walking around the eternal garden at Garden of the Gods, but there wasn't the usual late Sunday afternoon stream of hikers and cyclists.

6:21 p.m. The latest numbers from the Waldo Canyon fire:

17,827 acres, containment increased to 55 percent from 45 percent on Saturday, estimated date of full containment moved up five days to July 11, number of evacuees reduced to 3,000, estimated cost of fighting the fire increased to $11.1 million from $8.9 million on Saturday, number of personnel working on the fire is now 1,581 in 33 crews using 80 engines, 15 bulldozers, 16 water tenders and 11 helicopters.

4:56 p.m. Fire officials confirm that smoke now shrouding much of the west side comes from pockets of fuel igniting within fire perimeter. Not a danger to public, they said.

4:30 p.m. A lot of smoke coming up form Queen's canyon now. Fire officials earlier said they expected the blaze to burn off pockets of trees and brush within the fire lines.

2:45 p.m. This just in from the city: "444-7000 is getting inundated with calls from people asking about the areas where mandatory evacuation is lifted effective 8 p .m. tonight.

"We appreciate your help asking people to only use that number for police assistance and use the info center lines for information requests. The info center has the map and can verify areas for people."

Waldo Canyon Information Center Phones

(719) 520-7058

(720) 202-4510

(710) 402-7935

(720) 237-3417

(720) 237-9947

2 p.m.: Fire officials say they've had a great day.

The following evacuation areas are being downgraded to pre-evacuation status effective at 8 p.m. tonight, and residents may return to their homes and businesses may resume operations:

  •  Oak Valley Ranch
  • Pinon Valley
  • Peregrine
  • Grand Centennial Apartments
  • All businesses along Centennial and 30th 

 Centennial Boulevard will also re-open at 8 p.m.

 Mountain Shadows (from south of Wolfe Ranch Rd. and west of Flying W Ranch Rd to 30th St.) remains under Mandatory Evacuation status.

 

Most of today’s returning residents will have electric and water at their homes, but they will not have gas. Please carefully review and follow any notices left on your property. For questions about Utilities refer to www.csu.org or call (719) 448-4800.

Pikes Peak Highway will open Monday. Garden of the Gods park is now open. Ute Valley Park and Palmer Park also are open again to the public.

1:30 p.m.: Free child care is available Sunday for families affected by the Waldo Canyon Fire who are going to view their homes. Families can go to the Young Scholars Academy located at 5815 Tutt Center Point from 2pm-7pm.  Young Scholars Academy is a licensed child care facility located between Stetson Hills and Barnes.  They have enough room for 50-80 children today.  Children from 6 weeks to 14 years old are welcome.

1:10 p.m.: The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region is in the process of transferring all pet evacuees from the Freedom Financial Services Expo Center located at 3650 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, CO, 80909 to the main shelter located at 610 Abbott Lane (located directly off 8th street – by the Walmart). All animal transfers will be completed by 2pm today.

If you have any questions on the location of your pet evacuee please call HSPPR at 719-473-1741 X 1.

12:55 p.m.: Garden of the Gods park will remain closed until further notice.

12:35 p.m.: Aiken Canyon Preserve southwest of Colorado Springs is closed to public access until further notice because of the extreme wildfire danger.

11:33 a.m.: Colorado Springs Utilities has provided an update on their website:

  • From a Colorado Springs Utilities perspective, we are ready to accept customers back into their homes in all areas, except the Mountain Shadows neighborhood west of Centennial.
  • However, customers returning to their homes in the coming days will not have natural gas service.
  • We must operate at the direction and discretion of Incident Command.
Electric
  • 75 percent restoration in Mountain Shadows, planning for complete restoration today
  • Pole replacement in Cascade and Glen Eyrie underway
Water
  • Water quality tests have been performed in areas where you are being allowed to return home and the water is safe to drink.
  • If you're just returning home from an evacuation, please allow water to run from a sprinkler or hose for five minutes to clear sediment and air from the water lines.
  • Due to extreme drought conditions and the fire, water use in the community is high. We encourage customers to use water wisely. 

Natural Gas

  • Since yesterday, we've had more than 100 employees going house to house in the Peregrine and Oak Valley Ranch areas to ensure gas system safety.
  • We isolated natural gas service to every individual property yesterday (6/30) -- more than 3,000 meters in all.
  • We're energizing gas mains, checking for leaks and making necessary repairs today (in Peregrine and Oak Valley Ranch).
  • If you live in these areas and are allowed to return home soon, we'll need to meet with you to conduct safety checks, light pilot lights and turn on meters. You must be present for this process. A flyer is posted on your door with instructions.
  • Natural gas restoration is labor intensive and may take several days, but residents will be allowed back into their homes without gas service.
  • Mutual aide from neighboring utilities will arrive tomorrow (7/2) to assist with restoration efforts.

Mountain Shadows Neighborhood

  • For homeowners just east of Centennial who may return home soon, you should have water, electric and wastewater service. However, natural gas restoration will be a labor intensive process and you will not have natural gas service when you return.
  • A flyer has been posted on your door with instructions.
  • A Mountain Shadows Restoration Team was created for further planning. Service restoration to areas west of Centennial will be complex, especially the restoration of natural gas service.

10:25 a.m.: At the next briefing at 2 pm, the city will release information about the areas of Peregrine, Oak Valley and areas east of Centennial. There is hope residents can return home soon, but utilities were still a concern as of this morning.

10 a.m.: County commissioner Sallie Clark says El Paso County's disaster recovery center is open daily. There are several services that can be accessed.

9:30 a.m.: Centennial Boulevard still has closures in place so to access Eagle View Middle School, traffic should use I-25 and exit at Rockrimmon or Woodmen to access Vindicator.

9:05 a.m.: Fire update from the Joint Information Center:

Progress continues on all flanks in containing the Waldo Canyon fire. Firefighters continue to burn interior islands of unburned fuels resulting in smoke visible to Colorado Springs residents. The night shift succeeded in burnout operations in the Sand Gulch area and continues to monitor Rampart Road. Some residents are being allowed to return to their homes as firefighters secure perimeter lines.  Mountain Shadows residents are being allowed to visit their homes today. 

Firefighters are to working on hot spots along the north end of the fire.  The area around Rampart Reservoir is contained. The Mount Herman Road will see heavy equipment operations today in efforts to prepare it as a contingency line. West Monument creek drainage to Blodget Creek in producing smoke in very steep terrain and is being worked by crews. 

A Red Flag Weather warning is issued for today, between 12:00 noon and 9:00 p.m., as an approaching frontal system will increase winds. Unstable air will provide challenges to firefighters due to changing wind directions. However, last night’s relative humidity recovery was good.

MAFFS are available to work the fire, two lead planes and three single engine air tankers along with 12 helicopters (one is a military helicopter) support ground crews to contain the remaining portions of the fire.

9 a.m.: U.S. Highway 24 has reopened for residents of Cascade, Green Mountain Falls and Crystola. The highway will reopen to all motorists at 1 p.m.

The mandatory evacuations for Cascade, Green Mountain Falls and Crystola were lifted Sunday morning as crews continued to get a better hold on the Waldo Canyon fire.

The trail system of Waldo Canyon, along with the Manitou Incline and the Barr Trail, remain closed.

Colorado Springs Utilities reports that 227 residents are without electricity, down from 900-plus on Saturday.

The 17,659-acre fire remains at 45 percent containment. More than 1,500 firefighters are working

8:50 a.m.: The homeowners association of Parkside at Mountain Shadows is asking their residents to do two things to facilitate communications with them: 1) Go to Parksiderowners.com and submit the email address you now have access to receive email. Do this especially if you have a different email address due to fire evacuation; and 2) Go to Springsgov.com and register for Waldo Canyon Fire Updates. This is how the city keeps citizens informed.  Parkside manager Chuck Fowler and Parkside resident Councilmember Val Snider want residents to know they are working on supporting residents in the future rebuilding of Parkside. 

8:30 a.m.: Black Hills Energy spokesman says crews will go door to door in Cascade and Crystola to turn gas back on.


SUNDAY, 1 a.m.: Mother Nature may make another appearance at the Waldo Canyon fire Sunday.

After a day of progress, which saw firefighters complete lines around 45 percent of the blaze, the area is under a Red Flag Warning from the National Weather Service for conditions that could drive the blaze. The Weather Service predicts that temperatures will hit the 90s amid gusty winds and low humidity,.

The good news is that Saturday's fire lines now wall off most populated areas from the 17,600-acre blaze, which has destroyed 346 homes and killed two in Colorado Springs. They were tested by gusty afternoon winds and held.

Hundreds of residents are expected to make their way home today after evacuation orders in El Paso and Teller County were lifted.

Officials also expect to give clarity to residents of Peregrine and Oak valley ranch this morning on when they can expect to return to homes that were abandoned in haste as the firestorm hit Colorado Springs Tuesday.

Some Mountain Shadows residents will get their first look at their homes Sunday, as well, when officials let residents into the area. City officials said Mountain Shadows residents impacted by fire will be allowed to visit their properties in own vehicles from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Only residents who live within 30th Street on south, Centennial Boulevard on east and Flying W Ranch Road to north will be allowed access.

 Here's a rundown on how to get access: Arrival/Check-in from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.

•  Photo identification and proof of residency (e.g., lease, management contact, utility bill, etc.) is required.

Check-in locations are:

• North Division(Chuckwagon Road / South of Wolfe Ranch and South of Flying W Ranch Road / West of Centennial Boulevard) will check in at Eagle View Middle School at 1325 Vindicator Drive.

• South Division(South of Chuckwagon Road / North of 30th Street / West of Centennial Boulevard) will check in at the Verizon building (old MCI facility) at 2424 Garden of the Gods Road.

Early Sunday, Colorado Springs Utilities will hold a press conference to detail their plans in the area hit by the fire.

What could be the most emotion-packed event of the day will come at 9:30 a.m. at the Norris Penrose Events Center. "Church at The Ranch", is an event that was a Sunday ritual at Flying W Ranch, which was destroyed in Tuesday's firestorm.

Worshipers will also gather at churches throughout the former evacuation zones to mourn what was lost and celebrate what was saved.

On the fire lines, 1,534 firefighters and a mind-blowing array of trucks, bulldozers and aircraft will work to reinforce lines around the blaze.

Fire officials warn that the plumes of smoke from the fire won't end anytime soon. Pockets of trees and brush within the fire zone are expected to ignite Sunday, in displays of flame and smoke that officials say will be spectacular but harmless as the last pockets are burned within acres of already-blackened land.

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