Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

UPDATES: 379 homes lost, 2 dead in Black Forest fire

The Gazette - Updated: June 14, 2013 at 1:24 pm 0

Black Forest Fire Damaged Homes Updated Friday at 1:20 p.m.

Source: El Paso County Sheriff

LIVE UPDATES:

4:00 a.m. Crews continue to fight hotspots and other fires within the burn area. Weather has been much calmer than in the past days. The next briefing is planned for 9 a.m.

2:40 a.m. Fresh crews are taking up positions and fighting spot fires.

2:15 a.m. Friday winds for the Black Forest fire area will come from the west and southwest and pick up by the afternoon to fall between 10-15 mph, with a couple gusts near 20 mph, much less than the gusts reaching past 30 mph Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

Overnight Thursday, the area remained in the 70s. Black Forest is expected to see a high around 90 degrees Friday.

There is a chance again for afternoon thunderstorms, though it will be higher in the atmosphere with wind, lightning and little precipitation. A cell might produce a really brief shower, though wind differences remain the largest day-to-day change.

1:10 a.m. Updated numbers from El Paso County Sheriff's Office
1,813 homes appear unaffected
9 homes damaged
379 homes lost - 19 more than reported at the Thursday evening briefing

1:05 a.m. There were not a whole lot of fire reports coming into the Joint Information Center late Thursday and into early Friday, which may mean that the fire is more stable, said Jacqueline Kirby, joint information manager.

"Hopefully we will see a lot of progress when we get the morning reports," she said, adding that fire crews try to make as much progress as possible in the dark because of cooler temperatures and calmer winds.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office released an updated as of 10 p.m. home assessment list around 12:20 a.m. There are seven crews dedicated to property assessment in the burn area, Kirby said. They continue to go through checking property and expect another updated list early Friday.

12:40 a.m. Sheriff's Office:The home assessment link is down. Work is being done, it will be up again shortly.

12:35 a.m. El Paso County Sheriff's office has released an updated list of homes hit in the fire. They now say 379 are lost. The entire list has been updated and can be viewed here, and officials say to refresh until the chart appears.

12:30 a.m. On the scanner: A family arriving back into town can't get to their home in Black Forest; authorities directed them to the nearest Red Cross shelters:
- University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Rec Center, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
- Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Frontage Road, Monument, 867-8600 (accepting pets of evacuees who are staying there)

12:20 a.m. Reports of a home with the garage door open and ATVs outside in the driveway on Winslow Drive. Winds in burn area coming from the south and smoke has settled in the valley, per the scanner.

12:15 a.m. Tewkesbury Court a "haven" for looters, according to scanner traffic.

12:10 a.m. All Breed Rescue & Training has room to take more dogs, cats, smalled caged animals and caged birds (no poultry). Please call 264-6460 before dropping offf so they can prep kennels.
The group is caring for 29 dogs from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region and is expecting more to allow HSPPR to take more strays and rescues. They are also hosting pets from those who have evacuated the fire: 19 dogs, 5 cats, one bunny and one guinea pig. They are seeking volunteers to walk dogs Sunday and Monday. Monetary donations can be made online at www.haveanicedog.org.

11:30 p.m. Health advice to keep in mind from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office: If you can see or smell smoke, limit time outdoors. Consult your physician if respiratory or chest symptoms become severe because of wildfire smoke.

11:05 p.m. Units report that houses on Saxton Hollow Road are well mitigated and are "in great shape."

11:00 p.m. Report of one house with a door kicked in and damaged door frame. Monument PD are searching some homes, investigating burglaries.

10:45 p.m. The Type 1 Team on the Black Forest fire uses a radio system with a different frequency to coordinate firefighting efforts that is most likely not picked up by local scanner traffic. We're still listening for calls by Colorado crews that we can pick up.

10:25 p.m. Tri-Lakes Cares, a volunteer resource center located at 235 Jefferson St. in Monument, needs toothbrushes, baby wipes, combs, individually-wrapped snacks and easy-to-serve food in individual containers, such as ramen noodles, canned pasta, macaroni and cheese or tuna/cracker kits. Financial contributions, ear marked for fire victims, are accepted, and needs volunteers for shifts at the front desk and at Hangers, their retail store, after regular volunteers were evacuated.  Call 481-4864 x102 for Tri-Lakes Cares and 488-2300 for Hangers.

10:05 p.m.Nighttime lane closures on Interstate 25 are suspended due to Black Forest fire. Daytime work, which does not impact through  traffic lanes, is expected to continue depending on conditions.

9:35 p.m. Some people in Elbert County can go home. From the Elbert County Sheriff's Office: Elbert County residents residing between county road 74 (south Elbert county line) and County Road 86 and west of North Elbert Road are still on mandatory evacuation. All residents residing north of County Road 86 to County Road 98 and west of North Elbert Road may return to their residences on a pre-evacuation status and must be ready to evacuate upon a moment’s notice. All other Elbert County residents may return to their homes.

9:30 p.m. All district activities and programs, including summer school, ESY, ELL and MyPlace, are cancelled tomorrow for Lewis-Palmer School District 38.

9:05 p.m. At approximately 7 p.m., DIA experienced high winds causing 23 flights to divert to other airports, including Colorado Springs. Once they refuel they will be returning to DIA. On average there are 1,700 flights a day at Denver International Airport. Planes from United, Southwest, Frontier, Delta and American spent some time on the ground at the Colorado Springs Airport.

8:58 p.m. Firefighters are putting on headlamps and readying to battle through the night.

8:52 p.m. New Life Church is closed Friday.

8:42 p.m. From Colorado Springs state Sen. Kent lambert via Twitter: "A rainbow is now showing over El Paso County! Maybe a hopeful sign for !"

8:32 p.m. During the Waldo canyon fire of 2012, many people were asking "Where's the military?" The military has been out in force in Black Forest. Here's a partial list of military contributions to the effort from U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base.

U.S. Air Force Academy:
- Five trucks and 16 firefighters
- Support to the incident management team
Peterson Air Force Base & Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station:
- Two – Type 1 (structure) pumpers
- Ten firefighters
- Shelter for Department of Defense personnel on Peterson AFB
- Public Affairs personnel support to the Dual Status Commander
Buckley Air Force Base:
- 5,000 gallon water tender + two person crew
Fort Carson:  
- Two Type 6 (brush truck) and one water tender with 9 personnel
- Two CH47   Totals: 33.5 Flying Hours      179 Buckets    Estimate 243,000 Gallons
- Two UH60   Totals:  26.4 Flying Hours     180 Buckets    Estimate 71,000 Gallons     
- Four bulldozers on the scene cutting firebreaks on the north side of the fire
- Shelter for Department of Defense personnel on Fort Carson  
- Refueling point for military helicopters at USAFA (operated by Ft Carson & serving both active and National Guard helicopters)
302nd Airlift Wing:
- Two C-130 aircraft equipped with Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS)
- These two aircraft flew a combined 7.6 hours, conducted 11 air drops and released more than 25,000 gallons of retardant.
- Aircraft operating as the 731st EAS
Colorado National Guard:
- 120 personnel at 17 security checkpoints in Black Forest area
- 20 personnel providing various types of assistance at the incident
- National Guard Communications Element (4-personell)
- High-clearance trucks and water tenders (5 vehicles; 13 personnel)
- 3 UH-60s with bambi buckets – 37.8 flying hours; 64,000 gallons dropped through 12 Jun
- 1 LUH-72 Lakota helicopter equipped for aerial firefighting coordination

8:20 p.m. The Black Forest fire is calmer tonight than it was Wednesday evening. But it's still destructive. Firefighters now reporting fully-involved house fire on Darr Drive within the burn area.

From reporter Ryan Maye Handy in the burn area: "We are at School in the woods now. I just met the Security fire crew who helped save it."

8:14 p.m. From pre-evacuee state Rep. Amy Stephens of Monument via facebook: "Was at the press conference today with Sheriff Maketa. What a good job our EPC leaders are doing. Thanks to Mayor Bach, Incident Commander Harvey, our county commissioners - and all the wonderful volunteers! We have the cars loaded up and are ready to go if evacuated."

8 p.m. A look inside the Black Forest fire burn area from reporter Ryan Maye handy: "Patches of forest are untouched, like Cathedral Pines. Other areas, like Holmes Road, are totally black."

From El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark via Facebook: "El Paso County Disaster Assistance Center today: 217 families served!! Very busy- increasing to 10 intake stations. 124 phone calls. Busiest stations and most questions were surrounding pets, animals, insurance, Care & Share. Health Dept served 341 people. SBDC- 8 businesses - loss of $18M. Reorganizing the stations to accommodate more folks tomorrow. Call 444-8301 for information everyday 8-6.

7:55 p.m. Traffic has cleared up on Interstate 25 through Colorado Springs. That's good news after about six hours of total gridlock from Monument Hill to downtown.

7:45 p.m. Reporter Jakob Rodgers is with animal rescue volunteers. "In the last two hours, they've found 2 horses and 11 chickens."

7:40 p.m. From El Paso County Public Health via Twitter: "Looking to volunteer? You can sign up at http://careandshare.org/  . Click through the "Fire" icon to register yourself.

7:35 p.m. From El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark via Facebook. "Saved School in Woods, Pinery, Black Forest Community Center okay for now. Commissioner Darryl Glenn working on Black Forest Reentry Response Team with residents. King Soopers helping with firefighter sack lunches. Working with Pikes Peak Humane Society on centralized animal control. Boulder and Security Fire saved the school. Mixed sadness and good news. Heard from Mayor of Ramah and they have room for large animals out east."

7:25 p.m. Just had some massive gusts downtown. Waiting to hear if wind is hitting the fire.

Meanwhile: Here's a few numbers.

Deaths: 2

Size: 15,700 acres. 25 square miles.

Containment; 5 percent

Evacuations: 41,000 people from 14,000 homes -- that's 13,000 homes and 38,000 people in El Paso County and 1,000 homes and 3,000 people in the city of Colorado Springs.

Homes destroyed: 360, as of 2 a.m.

Firefighters: 750

7:12 p.m. The El Pomar Foundation offered $250,000 to help Black Forest fire victims earlier today.

From a news release: "The collective strength and resolve of our community is clear.  Today, El Pomar Foundation joins individuals, businesses and other organizations to meet this current challenge. Together we can assure our community that its residents and our first responders receive the support they need,” said William J. Hybl, Chairman and CEO of El Pomar Foundation. “In addition, El Pomar Foundation’s Wild Land Fire Fund remains open and continues to assess the needs of volunteer fire departments currently working in The Black Forest, Royal Gorge and La Veta.”
 
“This is another example of how as a community we step up and take care of one another,” said Commissioner Darryl Glenn. “We thank El Pomar for recognizing this immediate need of those impacted by the fire and helping to fill the gaps.”

7 p.m. Here's an updated map of the Black Forest fire based on infrared satellite imagery. http://gazette.com/article/1502261

Here's the latest evacuation map: http://gazette.com/black-forest-fire-evacuation-map/article/1502207

Firefighters are working to reinforce the southern line on the fire, now using helicopters to hit hot spots.

6:46 p.m. There's a lot less radio traffic on the fire this evening. That's a good sign. After an active afternoon, firefighters report that the fire is laying down as temperatures drop and the winds ebb.

Heard on the scanner: "The dinner bell is ringing."

6:36 p.m. From reporter Ryan Maye Handy: "Firefighters will be fighting all night, holding the lines they have, and doing internal patrol."

6:21 p.m. From reporter John Schroyer via Twitter: "Just drove through Falcon. Wasn't raining hard, but every little bit helps."

6:15 p.m. Recap of Black Forest fire numbers:

Deaths: 2

Size: 15,700 acres. 25 square miles.

Containment; 5 percent

Evacuations: 41,000 people from 14,000 homes in El Paso County and city of Colorado Springs.

Homes destroyed: 360, as of 2 a.m.

Firefighters: 750

6 p.m. Updated evacuation map: http://gazette.com/black-forest-fire-evacuation-map/article/1502207

5:50 p.m. From city of Colorado Springs via Twitter: "If you evacuated for #BlackForestFire without your pet call Humane Society 719-473-1741"

5:45 p.m. Wind gusts downtown blowing northeast, driving a few welcome raindrops.

5:33 p.m. The two who died: "They were loading, they were grabbing last minute things." They most likely died shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, Maketa said.

They were found in the garage with the car doors open as if packing. "All evidence suggests they planned to depart quickly."

Looting: "We're starting to see some activity. We have a lot of resources .. manning check points and active and random patrols." "I am familiar with one case ... We will continue to have a strong presence and an active presence (in the evacuation zone)."

5:28 p.m. Sheriff Terry Maketa:"I'm hopeful we did not lose any homes today. If we did, it was very few."

Incident Commander Chris Harvey called the day "a draw" saying had held most lines but only 5 percent contained.

Harvey: "not much progress. We have a long way to go."

5:27 p.m. Terry Maketa on the two people who died in the Black Forest fire: One talked on the phone at 5 p.m., he said, saying he could hear popping and cracking and was on his way out. The person had a long narrow driveway heavily wooded in an area that "burned very hot and likely was crowning in the trees."

"We were hoping to get through the day without coming across news like this."

Because of deaths sheriff opening a criminal investigation. 

"My heart and the heart of the community goes out to the friends and family of those left behind."

"We have some things to celebrate but there is also tragic news were hoping to avoid."

5:25 pm. Westcott Fire Protection District reports that fire is a half mile east of Highway 83 at Shamrock Ranch.

5:11 p.m. Black Forest fire numbers:

Deaths: 2

Size: 15,700 acres. 25 square miles.

Containment; 5 percent

Evacuations: 41,000 people from 14,000 homes in El Paso County and city of Colorado Springs.

Homes destroyed: 360, as of 2 a.m.

Firefighters: 750

5:05 p.m. Sheriff Terry Maketa: Two dead in Black Forest fire. Remains found Thursday.

4:51 p.m. From reporter Wayne Heilman: "The Liberty Heights senior living complex at 12105 Ambassador Drive in the Northgate area evacuated residents of its assisted living center and nursing home on Wednesday to other local facilities as required under orders from the city of Colorado Springs, Stephen Levy, executive vice president and general counsel for Senior Lifestyle Corp., which owns and operates the facility, said Thursday. Residents of the senior housing part of the complex were advised by Liberty Heights management to evacuate on Wednesday, and all but two residents went to nearby hotels or to stay with family members, he said. The two remaining residents left Thursday, leaving only a handful of staff members for security, maintenance and to answer telephone calls at the closed facility, Levy said.

More than 200 residents live at Liberty Heights, which employs about 150, Levy said.

"Our team members are going to other communities (where Liberty Heights residents are staying temporarily) to ensure our residents have what they need. As this plays out, we make a determination about when residents can return. The health and safety of our residents is our primary concern," Levy said. "We have detailed emergency plans and we put them into effect yesterday. I commend what our team members were able to do."


4:40 p.m. From the Colorado Department of Transportation: Nighttime lanes closures on Interstate 25 have been suspended until further notice as a result of the Black Forest Fire, which is burning east of the I-25 construction corridor. Nighttime work that has reduced traffic to one lane in some segments of the construction zone is being suspended to ensure full highway capacity for first responders and evacuees. Daytime work, which does not impact through  traffic lanes, is expected to continue should conditions allow.

4:35 p.m. Reporter Daniel Chacon says the air war against the Black Forest fire is intense today: "The DC10 is back and appears to be getting ready to make another big slurry drop on the #BlackForestFire."

The next media update on the fire is set for 5 p.m.

Heard on the scanner: "I'm feeling a lot better about the western flank of the thing."

4:30 p.m. Weather Update from reporter Erin Prater: Thunderstorms that have developed near the Black Forest fire are producing wind and dry lightning, but precious little rain.
The storms bring with them  “gusty and erratic winds,” a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Winds in Colorado Springs are gusting southward up to 38 mph. The Air Force Academy is reporting lightning in the to the north, she said.
South winds of 10-20 mph with gusts of up to 30 mph are expected to continue through the evening and into tonight.
Winds may die down after midnight and will turn toward the southwest, she said.
The forecast for Friday includes a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and a high near 87.
Winds are expected to be around 10 mph.

4:25 p.m. A universal sentiment today shared by @Jenn on Twitter: "I so wish it would rain and rain a lot! I want our city back to normal."

El Paso County Sheriff's office says Highway 83 is closed from Powers to Franktown.

4:20 p.m. Dry lightning has been reported at the Air Force Academy. A small fire in Teller County north of Cripple Creek has grown from a tenth of an acre to two acres in 30 minutes.

Traffic is jammed on Interstate 25 from Colorado Springs north past Monument Hill.

From the El Paso County Sheriff's Office via Twitter: "I-25 is completely congested. Avoid traveling if not necessary."

4:14 p.m. Here's the latest evacuation map: http://gazette.com/black-forest-fire-evacuation-map/article/1502207

If you're under mandatory evacuation orders: Leave now. The Black Forest Fire is moving swiftly the afternoon and every second counts. Police say avoid Highway 83. Head west.

If you're under voluntary evacuation: Why wait. An evacuation order could come at any time.

If you're under pre-evacuation order: get ready to go. Pack two weeks of clothing and be ready to leave at any time. Make plans now so you have somewhere to go.

4:07 p.m. Colorado Springs police are now on "accident alert" status. That means fender-benders without injuries or the involvement of alcohol or drugs can be reported later. The move frees up cops to help with evacuation efforts in northern Colorado Springs.

4 p.m. Reader reports raindrops near Palmer Lake. At the Rampart Range campus of Pikes Peak Community College off Highway 83, reporter Garrison Wells says wind gusts hitting hard. Overhead, "It's hard to tell whether they are clouds or smoke," Wells said.

3:55 p.m. Firefighters report winds driving Black Forest fire. Crews are working to protect a structure off Milam Road now. Firefighters are establishing a line at Open Sky Way.

Meanwhile, events around the Pikes Peak region are being cancelled as the fire grows. new Life Chruch has cancelled all events.

Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation has cancelled all youth and adult sports Thursday.

3:45 p.m. From Penrose-St. Francis Health Services via email: "In the past 24 hours, the emergency departments at St. Francis Medical Center and Penrose Hospital have each only treated two people related to smoke and breathing issues. This number of people is very similar to what we saw last year during the Waldo Canyon Fire. Of course, we are always prepared to take care of anyone who needs our help."

3:37 p.m. Teller County officials say they have crews on the way to battle a wildfire north of Cripple Creek.

On the Black Forest fire, crews report heavy smoke and blowing ash on the northwestern edge of the blaze.

3:33 p.m. Firefighters on radio: "We may have a small, dry thunderstorm overhead."

3:30 p.m. Troops on the Black Forest fire got a new boss Thursday. This came in from the state via e-mail.

"Gov. John Hickenlooper today selected a Dual-Status Commander, in agreement with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, to support wildfire response and relief efforts in Colorado. Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Peter J. Byrne was appointed Dual-Status Commander and will work with fire incident commanders.

When agreed upon by the secretary of defense and the governor of an affected state, dual-status commanders can direct federal active-duty and reserve forces, and state National Guard forces in response to domestic incidents."

3:25 p.m. Firefighters reporting spotfires, heavy activity of the northwest side of the blaze near Hodgen Road and Highway 83.

3:15 p.m. Reporter Alison Noon says northbound Intersatet 25 is jammed starting at Garden of the Gods Road. Southbound, she said, is flowing.

Latest evacuation map: http://gazette.com/article/1502207

3:07 p.m. From the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs via Twitter: e Rec Center has been activated as a Red Cross Shelter.

3:05 p.m. The National Weather Service sent an alert to El Paso County smart phone users -- It reflects a Red Flag warning for fire danger, not an evacuation order.

3 p.m. Firefighters at Shoup Road and Falcon Drive: "It's starting to climb into the trees." Commanders have more firefighters, engines on the way.

2:55 p.m. Firefighters calling for air support on running fire at Shoup Road and Falcon Drive. Firefighters on radio say blaze is pushing northwest.

2:52 p.m. New evacuations in northern Colorado Springs bring the total number of evacuees to 41,000.

2:44 p.m. Colorado State Patrol advising drivers headed to denver to take Highway 24 to I-70 then head west.

2:41 p.m. Firefighters on radio say Black Forest fire flaring up at Shoup and Falcon. Fire behavior increasing as winds are picking up.

2:36 p.m. Traffic nightmare in northern Colorado Springs. If you don't need to be there, leave. Reporters, officials say it's a parking lot through much of the area north of Woodmen Road.

From Colorado State Patrol on Interstate 25 traffic: LEFT lane for THROUGH traffic -RIGHT lane for EVACUATING residents, LAW ENFORCEMENT/FIRST RESPONDERS

2:30 p.m. Highway 83 is closed at Powers Boulevard. Police say don't use Highway 83, evacuees should head west. New Red Cross shelter is in recreation center at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

2:20 p.m. Firefighters on radio say fire is pushing south.

Mandatory Evacuation for northern Colorado Springs -- Northern Boundary: North Gate and Old North Gate Road - Southern Boundary: Flying Horse Club Drive (to include homes south of Flying Horse Club Drive on Barossa Valley Road and Veneto Way)/Vine Cliff Heights/Equinox Drive/Serenity Peak Drive - Eastern Boundary: Highway 83 - Western Boundary: Voyager Parkway This is the first mandatory evacuation within the city of Colorado Springs. Mandatory evacuation means leave your home now and head to safety.

Traffic is starting to snarl on Interstate 25. Reporter Jesse Paul says backup northbound starts at Woodmen Road.

2:10 p.m. Weather forecast that's driving more evacuations includes the possibility of thunderstorms that could spread flames.

Latest evacuation map: http://gazette.com/article/1502207

2:06 p.m. Officials say University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will open as a Red Cross shelter for evacuees within the hour. New evacuations impact 1,020 homes, about 3,000 people. Police in area for traffic control now.

Police will stay in evacuation zone.

Carey: "We're trying to be cautious, we're trying to be safe." "There is no indication that fire has crossed Highway 83."

2:05 p.m. Colorado Springs police chief Pete Carey: "Please leave the area as soon as possible."

Fire chief Tommy Smith "At this time we have no fire in Flying Horse."

2:02 p.m. If you are evacuating: Head west, do not use Highway 83, police say. Readers are reporting that the fire is crossing 83 near North Gate.

1:56 p.m. From reporter Jesse Paul via Twitter: Emergency presser being held at 2 p.m.

1:53 p.m. Voluntary evacuation area. West to I-25 and all areas north of Old Ranch Road within the City limits of Colorado Springs not included in Mandatory Evacuation Area A-1.

1:48 p.m. From CSPD via Twitter: "New mandatory evac area: Sunhills Dr & Granby Rd north to Baptist Rd & south to Old North Gate. Move west, avoid 83"

1:44 p.m. Again: Mandatory Evacuation announced for northern Colorado Springs -- Northern Boundary: North Gate and Old North Gate Road - Southern Boundary: Flying Horse Club Drive (to include homes south of Flying Horse Club Drive on Barossa Valley Road and Veneto Way)/Vine Cliff Heights/Equinox Drive/Serenity Peak Drive - Eastern Boundary: Highway 83 - Western Boundary: Voyager Parkway This is the first mandatory evacuation within the city of Colorado Springs. Mandatory evacuation means leave your home now and head to safety. As hundreds of northern Colorado Springs residents leave their home here's some shelter information:

Residents who cannot stay with family or friends outside the evacuation area, go to Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Rd, Monument

Small Animal Shelters:

Powers Pet Emergency- Powers and Stetson Hills – Offering small animal assistance, medical & kennel. Ph (719) 473-0482

Falcon Animal Hospital - Phone (719) 495-1457, is now accepting dogs and cats, 860 Swing Line Road. Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Road Monument, CO 80132
Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, 610 Abbot Lane Colorado Springs, CO 80905

If you are NOT staying with your pets at the Palmer Ridge High School shelter, you must bring your animals to Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region at 610 Abbot Lane. The Palmer Ridge High School shelter is set up for owners staying with their pets only.

1:41 p.m. Mandatory Evacuation announced for northern Colorado Springs -- Northern Boundary: North Gate and Old North Gate Road - Southern Boundary: Flying Horse Club Drive (to include homes south of Flying Horse Club Drive on Barossa Valley Road and Veneto Way)/Vine Cliff Heights/Equinox Drive/Serenity Peak Drive - Eastern Boundary: Highway 83 - Western Boundary: Voyager Parkway

This is the first mandatory evacuation within the city of Colorado Springs. Mandatory evacuation means leave your home now and head to safety.

1:35 p.m. This from Fort Carson via e-mail:

The preferred phone number for the evacuee shelter at the Fort Carson Youth Center is 526-2680.

Fort Carson is offering housing for military families impacted by the fire.

1:25 p.m. Tweet from the U.S. Forest Service: "Pike/San Isabel begin Stage 1 fire restrictions. No fires outside fee campgrounds. Use extreme caution."

1:15 p.m. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is on his way. Via Twitter "Headed to Black Forest fire for briefing at incident command. Thoughts first and foremost with people who lost homes."

1:10 p.m. Falcon School District 49 issued a statement saying it's ready to help with fire efforts.

"We are doing our best to respond to our community’s needs. We’re coming together as a district, putting plans in place to assist community needs. If you have an immediate need of a district service or facility, contact our chief operations officer Jack Bay at jbay@d49.org."

1:05 p.m. Firefighters are refilling their tenders as they gear up for a tough afternoon. The National Weather Service is predicting wind gusts of up to 35 mph in the Black Forest fire area.

12:55 p.m. Cancel the previous "Missing KVOR report" issued earlier today.

Assumed to be a victim of the Black Forest fire, 740 KVOR radio is back on the air.

The station has resumed broadcast after a transmission line went down inside the fire evacuation zone.

12:52 p.m. To all the folks in Canon City, here's a map of the perimeter of the Royal Gorge Fire.

12:48 p.m. At the morning news briefing, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa talked about the stunning loss of 360 homes to the Black Forest fire.

But he also spoke with pride of all the houses being saved by the hundreds of firefighters driving in to face the flames.

One of those moments just played out on emergency scanners:

"Just knocked down the fire at Vessey Road and Millhaven Place. Structure saved. It was not damaged. Mopping up."

That is in the exclusive Cathedral Pines subdivision north of Black Forest Regional Park.

12:39 p.m. Venetucci Farm has postponed a barn-raising and open house planned for Saturday, June 15.

The farm and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation decided to postpone it so all efforts could be focused on the Emergency Relief Fund for the Pike Peak Region.

The fund benefits non-profit and first responder organizations providing immediate local disaster relief.

The fund is modeled on last year’s Waldo Canyon Firefighters Fund, which received an outpouring of community support. That fund is limited to Waldo Canyon fire relief.

The new Emergency Relief Fund for the Pikes Peak Region has more flexibility to quickly respond to the community’s needs.

Donations to the fund can be made on the foundation’s website: www.ppcf.org/products/emergency-relief.

Contributions may be used to fund eligible costs for pressing needs such as emergency supplies and gas, as well as long-term restoration efforts. Fund disbursement will be overseen by a committee of local experts.

12:33 p.m. The Black Forest fire seems to be intensifying, based on scanner chatter from the fire zone: "Lotta fire coming up that hill toward the structure."

And ...

"Spot fire on High Forest Road. Copy. Headed that way."

12:18 p.m. Here's a link to a map of the perimeter of the Black Forest Fire burn zone.

It's important to note that not every house and tree within the zone has burned.

11:58 a.m. Mail delivery is being disrupted to 8,000 residences due to the Black Forest fire.

The U.S. Postal Service reports that contingency plans are being developed to get evacuees their mail.

All mail out of Elbert, ZIP 80106, including street and Post Office boxes is now being held at the Kiowa Post Office. Customers can pick up mail at the facility located at 708 Comanche St.

More than 5,000 addresses out of Monument, ZIP 80132, will not get delivery today. Folks who live east of Interstate 25 and south of Highway 105 can get their mail at the Monument Post Office at 543 3rd St. This impacts nearly 3,000 deliveries.

Mail delivery also has been suspended for nearly all of Colorado Springs, ZIP 80908, affecting about 3,200 deliveries. The only section in the Black Forest receiving delivery is the general area between Woodmen and Burgess, in the southeast corner.

Mail will be held at Briargate Station, 8585 Criterion Dr., and can be picked up at the side door in the lobby from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The phone number to the station is 719-265-4409.
 
The Postal Service has temporarily closed the Black Forest Retail Postal Unit. All mail and services are being serviced out of the Briargate Station.

In addition, about 200 addresses serviced by Peyton, ZIP 80831, in the Black Forest and Falcon area are impacted by road closures. Mail for affected addresses is available at the Peyton Post Office, 13055 Bradshaw Road.

11:50 a.m. The command staff of the team fighting the Black Forest fire just ordered a lockdown of all its roadblocks.

Until 11:47 a.m., residents of evacuated areas were able to get police escorts to their homes to retrieve medicine or for other reasons.

But an alert that just went out over the scanner ordered a halt to all escort activity.

It could be an indication the fire is growing unpredictable and they don't want anyone caught inside the boundaries.

11:40 a.m. More cancellations are piling up due to the Black Forest fire. The latest event to fall is the Ted Schubert Memorial race scheduled for Saturday, June 15, at the El Paso County Speedway.

Organizer Alan Davis noted 80 animals ranging from horses to llamas and many others are being housed at the El Paso County Fairgrounds, where the racetrack is located.

The race will be rescheduled and folks are asked to check the website, www.elpasocountyspeedway.com, for information on a new date.

11:29 a.m. Black Forest fire by the numbers ...

Containment: 0 percent

Deaths / injuries: None reported

Acres burned: 15,000

Homes burned: 360 destroyed / 14 damaged

People evacuated: 38,000 people

Homes evacuated: 13,000

Evacuation area: 94,000 acres or147 square miles.

Firefighters on scene: 500 estimated

11:19 a.m. It's been a busy morning at the El Paso County Disaster Assistance Center at the county's Citizens Service Center, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road.

In the three hours after it opened at 8 a.m., the disaster team served 43 families.

The center brings together representatives of major insurance companies, healthcare providers, folks from El Paso County Health Department, Pikes Peak Regional Building, utilities officials, as well as the state Department of Local Affairs and Office of Emergency Management.

There are even grief counselors available and local non-profit groups offering services. It will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. indefinitely.

11:15 a.m. No deaths or injuries have been reported due to the Black Forest fire and now the only missing person associated with the fire has been located.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Departmenet tweeted the news that the unidentified person has been located and is safe.

11:08 a.m. El Paso County would have a good start if it was building an ark. As of this morning, it had 11 campers, 86 horses, pigs, llamas and a variety of other animals at the County Fairgrounds, according to Tim Wolken, director of the Community Services Department.

They are prepared to accept more if needed.

11:02 a.m. Fire restrictions are expanding. Effective immediately in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Stage 1 fire restrictions are in place. That includes El Paso County and 13 other counties.

No open fires are allowed in the forest unless they are in a permanent fire pit or grate in a developed recreation site. Fully enclosed portable stoves are permitted.

The ban includes smoking unless in an area clear of flammable materials. Chainsaws used in the forest must have an approved spark arrester and a chemical fire extinguisher must be nearby. The ban also includes explosives such as fireworks.

Ditto for Manitou Springs where Fire Chief Keith Buckmiller imposed restrictions on open fires, open burning and fireworks.

No open campfires, warming fires, charcoal grill fires, fires in wood-burning stoves or grates, fused explosives, and fireworks of all types.

Open fires and open burning during a period of high fire danger is prohibited along with smoking of cigarettes, cigars or pipes outdoors anywhere but along Manitou Avenue.

Tossing a lighted butt also is prohibited.

Restrictions do not apply to gas-fueled grills used out-of-doors, or to fires within liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves and fireplaces within buildings, nor to fires in wood-burning stoves and fireplaces within private residences.

10:40 a.m. The Black Forest fire cut the broadcast of 740 KVOR radio.

The fire took out a transmission line that carries the KVOR signal to its transmitter. The line runs through Black Forest and its mandatory evacuation zone.

As a result, repair crews cannot get in and fix it. So 740 is off the air.

But you can still hear KVOR programming. It has been shifted it to a sister station, AM 1300.

10:35 a.m. Crews fighting the Black Forest fire are facing a three-headed monster today as they try to stop it from racing north into Elbert County, surging northwest into unincorporated Woodmoor or west into affluent north Colorado Springs neighborhoods.

On the northeast front, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said the fight would center on the Willow Springs Estates subdivision off Walker Road where firefighters encountered fierce fire activity.

"We saw tremendous intensity," Maketa said of Remington Road, in the neighborhood.

Stopping its advance there is imperative to prevent the fire from roaring into Elbert County.

Preventing the fire from jumping Highway 83 is another high priority.

If the fire surged west across Highway 83, it would threaten the unincorporated Gleneagle golf course community as well as the northern edge of Colorado Springs and neighborhoods like Northgate, Northgate Highlands, Stone Crossing, Trail Ridge, Liberty Hieghts and the golf course community of Flying Horse Ranch.

And if it moved northwest again, crossing Highway 93, it would jeopardize Woodmoor, an unincorporated community of about 3,000 homes in a heavily wooded area of about 2,000 acres east across Interstate 25 from Monument.

Woodmoor is home to about 30,000 people who live along 51 miles of winding country roads. In addition, some exclusive neighborhoods of large luxury homes such as Kings Deer, Kings Deer Highlands and others.

Maketa said at a morning briefing that an eastern front of the fire, near Meridian Road and Rex Road, appeared to be approaching containment although he warned it could flare given dramatically changing wind conditions.

He voiced no such confidence in the ability of fire crews to tame the three other fronts of the fire, noting flames had raced about seven miles east and then burned back on Tuesday and made similar runs, back and forth, to the northwest.

In the process, houses deemed saved by property assessment teams were destroyed in the second wave of flames.

The exclusive Cathedral Pines neighborhood north of Black Forest Regional Park was an example.

Fire spared much of the subdivision only to double back and claim houses.

"We did loses houses there," he said.

9:34 a.m. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says at least 360 homes are complete losses -- numbers he calls "shocking" -- and another 14 are damaged as firefighters prepare to face another "red flag" day fighting the Black Forest fire.

The destruction of homes ranks the Black Forest fire as the worst wildfire in Colorado history, surpassing the 347 homes destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire last June in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs.

It also ranks atop the list for most forced evacuations. Maketa said 38,000 people have been forced from their homes by the Black Forest fire, again exceeding the 32,000 evacuated from Colorado Springs during the Waldo Canyon fire.

Maketa has no update on a missing person report filed Wednesday. Attempts to investigate the report are being hampered by intense fire.

"I have not heard of a report of injuries and no information on fatalities at this time," Maketa said.

As for today, the fire remains completely out of control and likely will as long as winds gusting to 40 mph whip it every direction, he said.

 "We're not at a point where we can declare containment," Maketa said.

He said the prospect of winds in the 30 mph range with gusts to 35 mph today make prospects for containment doubtful, he said.

The goal today will be to stop its spread to the west and northwest where affluent Colorado Springs neighborhoods and the communities of Woodmoor and Monument sit.

"Those are going to be the priorities," he said.

He said 15,000 acres have burned since the fire erupted Tuesday afternoon near the intersection of Shoup Road and Falcon Drive in unincorporated El Paso County just north of Colorado Springs.

Maketa said 1,205 homes were unaffected by fire, as of 2 a.m. when the assessment was conducted.

Another 79 addresses could not be verified for numerous reasons such as accessiblity blocked by downed trees or dangerous fire activity that disrupted the assessment.

"We had to pull our units out because they were getting trapped by the fire," he said.

The sheriff said he was taken aback by the destruction caused Wednesday.

"Those numbers are pretty staggering," Maketa said. "We saw the fire travel quite a bit and saw quite a bit of devastation from it."

The weather dictated everything Wednesday and will again on Thursday, Maketa said.

"The wind is probably our No. 1 threat," Maketa said. "It has been a game changer. It was very dynamic. And winds today are supposed to pick up and continue on the next few days."

Maketa said 94,000 acres are currently evacuated affecting 38,000 residents in 13,000 homes.

Maketa was addressing a press briefing at the Rampart Range campus of the Pikes Peak Community College.

"We had tremendous heat and fire," Maketa said. "We had areas burn two days ago, flare up and become so hot we couldn't get into the areas."

There were victories Wednesday amid the destruction, Maketa said.

A number of the houses in the burn zone have been saved thanks to heroic efforts by firefighters to save them.

“Those are victories that didn’t come by accident," Maketa said. "It was a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated firefighters."

Also, he's pleased with the progress crews made on the eastern front of the fire. For now, that edge appears to be approaching containment as firefighters have been able to create fire breaks and do back burns.

"The eastern side is not consuming a lot of our resources right now," he said. "That is a success."

He will hold another briefing at 5 p.m.

8:38 a.m. Scanner: emergency medical personnel are responding to a call from Palmer Ridge High School in Monument for an elderly woman suffering an asthma attack.

Of course, Palmer Ridge is an evacuation shelter and the woman is among the evacuees. And asthma attacks are one of the risks of trying to breathe in smoke-choked air.

8:35 a.m. Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado says it is continuing its food drive, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday.

The non-profit group will re-evaluate the need at that point.

This according to Lynne Telford, president of Care and Share.

Take non-perishable items -- boxed cereal, soup, peanut butter, canned vegetables and snacks -- to its locations including 2605 Preamble Point in Colorado Springs and 100 Greenhorn Drive in Pueblo.

To learn more, go to www.careandshare.org.

8:30 a.m. Victims of the Black Forest fire were lining up this morning at the El Paso County Disaster Assistance Center at the county's Citizens Service Center, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road.

It opened at 8 a.m. and people were already in line. It will bring together representatives of major insurance companies, healthcare providers, folks from El Paso County Health Department, Pikes Peak Regional Building, utilities officials, as well as the state Department of Local Affairs and Office of Emergency Management.

There are even grief counselors available and local non-profit groups offering services. It will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. indefinitely.

8:16 a.m. Scanner: "We have a pasture with llamas in it. The west side of the pasture is one fire. Can we contact the owner or should we just let them out?"

8:05 a.m. As we await an update from the Black Forest fire incident commander at 9 a.m., it's clear the fight is in high gear again.

The fire zone is alive with the sounds of helicopters bombarding hotspots with water. The fleet includes two huge Chinooks and assorted smaller copters.

Meanwhile, the parking lot of a northside Walmart near Black Forest is packed with evacuees.

7:58 a.m. If you are evacuated, or a first responder and you can't breath or just need a break, here are a couple options.

The YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region is open to those who do not have air conditioning and those who are unable to open their windows due to air quality.

They are invited to shower and relax at no charge at the eight YMCAs in the Pikes Peak Region, including Tri-Lakes, Briargate, Garden Ranch, Downtown, Southeast, Fountain and the city-owned, Y-operated Cottonwood Creek and Memorial Park Recreation Centers.

Details are at www.ppymca.org

Another option for military folks in the same position: the Fort Carson Youth Center is open as a shelter for military families and Department of Defense civilians who have evacuated due to the southern Colorado fires.

The center is located at 1518 Ware Street, Building 5950. Pets are welcome, but the center asks pet owners to bring their own kennels, leashes, food and feeding bowls.

The center can house up to 100 people and is available on a first come, first served basis. To contact the center please call 719-526-2794.

7:50 a.m. Refueling is underway of trucks, copters and water tankers as firefighters prepare for a pivotal day in the battle to contain the Black Forest fire.

Scanner traffic indicates a round of briefings is underway between the night crew and the day crew heading back into the fire zone.

One exhange indicated a helicopter had flown 22 sorties and needed to refuel already.

7:45 a.m. Evacuees are lining up at the road block at Stage Coach Road and Highway 83.

They are asking for escorts into the evacuation areas to their homes.

“My medicine is in there,” one woman told an officer. The homes here in heavy woods.

Elsewhere, a man is busy this morning clearing brush from his yard.

7:40 a.m. Helicopters have taken to the skies this morning as the fight resumes in the Black Forest fire. A Chinook hauling water over the fire zone was visible minutes ago.

7:30 a.m. Sounds as if things are heating up on the northern edge of the Black Forest fire. A caller reported seeing flames six feet high in trees visible at Morgan Road, just south of Walder Road and between Black Forest and Meridian roads. The caller reported the flames are within 75 feet of a home.

7:24 a.m. Closings continue to pile up. Now it's the Monument branch of the Pikes Peak Library District. It is closed indefinitely due to the Black Forest fire.

7:20 a.m. Folks are lining up early to get a look at the Black Forest fire.

At Old North Gate and Highway 83, Sara and Steve Rempelos came to take a look and bring doughnuts to officers at the roadblock.

The Rempelos were evacuated from a house near Hogden and Steppler Wednesrday. They dug their own fire line with a tractor.

"I've lived here for 25 years and that spot up there is our community, our neighbors," Steve Rempelos said.

"Having alone take care of us is just - it's just not cool."

The Rempelos were taking photos here. They saw flames from their backyard when they decided they needed to leave. They say others with homes near trees and the fire should pack up now.

7:05 a.m. Pikes Peak Community College reports that its Rampart Range Campus remains closed due to the evacuation notice caused by the Black Forest fire.

The college will monitor the situation and determine when the campus on Interquest Parkway can reopen. It has been the site for media briefings on the fire.

6:45 a.m. Rich Harvey and his Great Basin Incident Management team has moved the Incident Command Post to Pine Creek High School.

Firefighters have been staging from Shoup Road and Howells Road, near the spot where the fire erupted Tuesday afternoon.

6:40 a.m.: The Gazette's Jesse Aaron Paul is out on the scene and he reports visibility is really poor at Interstate 25 and Woodmen Road to Monument. Smoggy.

He reports that smoke is so heavy that it's noticeable harder to breathe near the fire lines. Nauseating, even.

6:35 a.m.:Scanner traffic: Crew walking a fire line says fire line held during the night. Stumps are burning well within the blackened fire zone But no spot fires carried across the line.

Crews are preparing for a shift change. They are thanking each other for their hard work all night and wish each other a safe day ahead.

6:30 a.m. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office has worked throughout the night to update its list of homes destroyed, damaged or left unharmed by the Black Forest fire.

The Initial Home Assessment will be released upon completion. It will be available at http://shr.elpasoco.com/.

6:06 a.m. Major objectives today in the Black Forest fire include protecting Woodmoor, an unincorporated community of about 3,000 homes in a heavily wooded area of about 2,000 acres east across Interstate 25 from Monument.

Woodmoor is home to about 30,000 people who live along 51 miles of winding country roads.

Crews are trying to prevent the fire from jumping Highway 83 and getting into Woodmoor and surrounding neighborhoods of large luxury homes such as Kings Deer and Kings Deer Highlands.

5:59 a.m. As the change of command comes at 6 a.m. for the Black Forest fire -- from El Paso County to Rich Harvey and his Great Basin Incident Management team -- there’s plenty of activity in the Black Forest fire zone.

Scanner traffic indicates crews fear a large pine along Herring Road, between Shoup and Burgess roads near Ponderosa Acres, is going to fall and block the critical north-south roadway. It is burned out in the center and crews are calling for a team to drop the tree out of the way.

A power pole at Beulah and Black Forest Road is threatening to fall across the road.

Burning embers are threatening a structure nearby.

Other crews are reporting increased fire activity as the sun begins to rise on the fire zone.

5:45 a.m.: Out at the corner of Highway 83 and Walker Road, the old fire boundaries: National Guard troops have been stationed here with the road blocked since 8 p.m.

Reminder: Black Forest Road is closed from Hodgen Road to Shoup Road.

In addition, Shoup Road is closed from Black Forest Road to Highway 83.

5:40 a.m. Since the Black Forest fire began on Tuesday, the Memorial Hospital System in Colorado Springs has seen 16 patients, all with smoke-related complaints.

Of those 16, only one person was admitted.

"From Tuesday when the fire began to about 7 p.m. last night, we saw about 12 patients," said Erin Emery, a spokesowoman for Memorial. "Overnight, we've seen four more."

The hospital is poised for more.

"We are prepared," Emery said. "This is the sort of thing we have plans for."

5:19 a.m. As dawn beckons over the Black Forest fire zone, the forecast is ominous for the hundreds of firefighters heading back into the battle.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning again today, starting at 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Temperatures are expected to rise very dramatically as the day progresses.

“By mid-to-late morning the winds should pick up form the south," said a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo. "Winds will be about 10 -20 mph at noon or so and gusts will reach 30 mph in the early afternoon and evening. Temperatures will start off in the 50s and will rise. In most areas toward the fire, temps will hit 90 by this afternoon.”

The weather service also reported a slight chance of isolated thunderstorms in the region that could produce gusty winds and lightening but little-to-no rain.

 4:30 a.m. A Type 1 Incident Command Team is expected to take over firefighting operations at 6 a.m. Thursday. The next planned news briefing is set for 9 a.m. Disasters labeled Type 1 are at the most complex level at the national level.

Rich Harvey, who led efforts against the Waldo Canyon fire last year, is expected to head the team.

3:50 a.m. Evacuation update part 2 from El Paso County Sheriff's Office - Evac was completed utilizing foot patrol going door to door & geo cast early evening of 06/12/13 A Gazette reporter is checking on the timing of the evacuation and order.

3:45 a.m. EVACUATION UPDATE from El Paso County Sheriff's Office - Mandatory Evac Update Part 1: Due to dynamic changing conditions - Hwy 83 east to Eastonville, Walker north to County Line.

3:30 a.m. El Paso County Sheriff's Office via Twitter: New reports pending on structures within the fire zone; we are actively working on compiling an updated list. #BlackForestFire - 3:30 a.m.

3 a.m. From El Paso County Sheriff via Twitter: Edith Wolford Elementary is still standing, untouched by fire at this time. - 2:57 a.m. The Pinery at Black Forest (event center) is still standing, untouched by fire at this time. - 2:55 a.m. The Black Forest Community Center is still standing, untouched by fire at this time. - 2:59 a.m.httime lanes closures on Interstate 25 have been suspended until further notice as a result of the Black Forest Fire, which is burning east of the I-25 construction corridor. Nighttime work that has reduced traffic to one lane in some segments of the construction zone is being suspended to ensure full highway capacity for first responders and evacuees. Daytime work, which does not impact through  traffic lanes, is expected to continue should conditions allow.

 

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