Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content LIVE UPDATES: Black Forest fire north of Colorado Springs consumes more than 7,500 acres; dozens of homes gutted

By Andrea Sinclair Updated: June 12, 2013 at 4:53 am

LIVE UPDATES:

4:50 a.m. As sunrise approaches, firefighters are still dealing with burning homes. Every few minutes on teh radio, firefighters are reporting a new structure fire. The fire is still throwing spots. Firefighters have been a desperate battle overnight to preserve homes that could be saved.

At last count, the fire was at 8,000 acres. Sheriff Terry Maketa told KOAA TV that he thought as many as 100 homes may have burned.

The evacuation area stands at 55 square miles. Firefighters from around Colorado have been streaming into El Paso County to join the fight.

When the sun is up, helicopters and military planes are expected to join the battle.

4:40 a.m. The latest update from the National Weather Service office in Pueblo calls for severe fire weather starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Low humdity, temperatures in the 80s and gusty winds could drive the Black Forest fire.

Firefighter on radio: "It has pushed way to south and east to stop it now."

4:30 a.m. Reporter Jakob Rodgers is headed to the incident command post. We're hoping for a more comprehensive update. You can smell the Black Forest fire in downtown Colorado Springs.

4:20 a.m. Firefighters reporting an increase in fire activity in the area of Burgess and Windmill. Other reports say fire is pushing south and east. By some estimates on the scanner, the leading edge of the fire is 3,600-feet wide.

4:10 a.m. Firefighter "It's starting to come out of the trees."

4 a.m. Terry Maketa: 'wouldn't be surprised' if as many as 100 homes have burned, KOAA reports.

3:50 a.m. Firefighter on the radio: "They say when you get over the hill, there's a lot of fire."

"We've got a lot of fire here, we'e going to need some resources," a firefighter said. "And the wind is starting to pick up."

3:40 a.m. Firefighters on the radio say there's still plenty of active fire in the area. They're investigating reports of a blaze pushing Burgess Road onthe southern boundary of the fire. Many firefighters working to protect homes tonight.

3:30 a.m. From reporter Jesse Byrnes: Red Cross shelter at Palmer Ridge High School has a total of 55 cots. Twenty-two people are there tonight, along with 37 cats and dogs.

3:20 a.m. It sounds like more evacuation orders could come down soon. We're waiting details.

2:55 a.m. Scores of firefighters are still battling the Black Forest fire and more are arriving by the hours. Wednesday. Firefighters report that houses are still going up in the fire area and more are threatened. Wednesday is a huge day for the fire.

Here's where it stands at 3 a.m.: The fire has blackened about 8,000 acres and officials estimate that 60 homes have been damaged or destroyed. A 55-square mile area is evacuated, encompassing more than 2,000 homes.

At Hardin Road and Lazy H Way, one house is fully-involved at this hour and four more there are threatened, firefighters report.

While fires still rage, crews are making progress. they have been working through the night to control the flanks of the fire.

2:40 a.m.  Reporter Jakob Rodgers says the local Red Cross chapter stepped up preparedness in the wake of the Waldo Canyon fire, acquiring new cots, blankets and other gear that's helping in the Black Forest fire.

Meanwhile, firefighters from Denver are arriving in Black Forest, giving a break to weary local crews who have been battling flames for more than 12 hours.

2:30 a.m. The National Weather Service office in Pueblo has put El Paso County under a red flag warning for high fire danger Wednesday. The warning takes hold at 2 p.m., when wind gusts and high temperatures are predicted to drive extreme fire behavior.

2:20 a.m. Disaster again brings out community support, reporter Jakob Rodgers found: "So far, New Life and Sam's Club have been offering food. BestBuy donated cell chargers."

2:10 a.m. From reporter Jesse Byrnes: "Five fire trucks turned onto Shoup Rd from Highway 83 a little bit ago. Officers at the intersection said they're coming about every 20 minutes."

To locate friends and loved ones, or to register yourself as safe and well, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell.

2:05 a.m. An early morning tweet: "It's hard to sleep when your city is burning down... Again..."

2 a.m. The La Foret Conference and Retreat Center, which was threatened by the Black Forest fire issued a statement:

Today our community was hit by a devastating wildfire consuming a large portion of Black Forest, when our last staff member exited the grounds, the fire had already begun burning homes bordering La Foret property. At this moment there are no reports that La Foret has had any of its 460 acres catch fire. While we are thankful for the safety of our property, we are saddened at the destruction of our community ... We are uncertain of the status of our property and town, but we promise those in Black Forest that we will help this community rebuild. They are our neighbors and family...it is our pleasure and duty to help reconstruct this wonderful place with them. Please keep us in your prayers.

 

1:55 a.m. The military has opened a second shelter: Peterson Air Force Base opened an emergency evacuation shelter at the Peterson Fitness and Sports Center for military members and families affected by the Black Forest and Royal Gorge fires June 11.

The shelter is open to all personnel with base access and can accommodate approximately 100 people. The shelter will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

“We want to ensure all personnel affected by these fires know there are resources and support available,” said Col. Chuck Arnold, 21st Mission Support Group commander. “We have cots, drinking water and shower facilities available to evacuated military families.”

Questions regarding the shelter can be directed to the Peterson AFB Facebook page at Peterson AFB: 21st Space Wing or by calling the Fitness Center at 556-4462.


More information for pet evacuations: http://www.hsppr.org/blackforestfire

1:50 a.m. Firefighters still working to protect homes in Black Forest fire area. "We've got a lot of fire down here," one crew reported.

1:35 a.m. Update from El Paso County: Mandatory Evacuations: north to Hodgen Road, east to Eastonville Road, south to Burgess Road and Rex Road. 

Pre Evacuation Areas, all immediate areas just south and east of the Mandatory Evacuation areas. Milam east to Hwy 24, Stapleton north to Guy Ranch.


Road Closures: All roads within the evacuation area are CLOSED. This includes Hodgen Road, Burgess Road, and Meridian Road. HIGHWAY 83 is now open in both directions.
 
Shelters: Human shelters have been established at Palmer Ridge High School, New Life Church & Elbert County Fairgrounds.

 

Large Animal Shelters are established at the Norris Penrose Equestrian Center and the Elbert County Fairgrounds (95 Ute Avenue, Kiowa, CO. 303-718-3343).

 

The Flying W Ranch is accepting horses, but NEEDS hay donations. Please call ahead to 499-2324.

1:28 a.m. From the El Paso County Sheriff's Office: For clarification: Latigo Trails, Latigo Creek, and Latigo Estates ARE under mandatory evacuation.

 

1:23 a.m. Fire officials report winds 10-15 mph over fire now. The wind expected to die down by 4 a.m.

1:12 a.m. Reporter Jakob Rodgers says Black Forest fire remains active, with flames shooting up for timber.

1:09 a.m. From reporter Jakob Rodgers: "Firefighters at Ayer Road and Meridian Road said they plan to back burn a section of land there." That effort would help secure the north side of the blaze.

Firefighters report that the south side of the fire along Shoup Road is flaring up.

1:02 a.m. The federal government has approved cash to support the effort to douse the Black Forest Fire. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports "Fire Management Assistance approved for #RoyalGorgeFire and #BlackForestFire in Colo. FEMA provides funds to support firefighting efforts."

12:56 a.m. The State Emergency Operations Center will activate Wednesday morning at 8 am to support wildfire operations across Colorado.

12:53 a.m. Firefighters report numerous homes with gas leaks that are flaring. Gas service has been shut off to nearly 2,500 customers in the area.

12:46 a.m. Firefighters are dividing into divisions to address specific areas on the perimeter of the Black Forest fire. The goal is to contain the fire's flanks to stop its spread to the north and south. Cooler temperatures and calmer night winds make this a critical time for firefighters to gain ground on the blaze.

Other keys to the battle tonight include stopping structure fires and carefully mapping the fire.

Some numbers: The fire has consumed an estimated 7,800 acres, damaging more than 60 homes. About 55 square miles in Black Forest have been evacuated. The evacuation area covers more than 2,000 homes.

12:35 a.m. Firefighters are examining back-burn plans. This technique uses fire to fight fire, burning out fuel in front of the blaze to stop its progress.

12:30 a.m. From reporter Jesse Byrnes: Seeing fire crews from Platte Canyon, Black Forest, Elk Creek and Falcon in the same intersection out here.

12:25 a.m. A fire Tuesday night in Pike National Forest led to pre-evacuation warnings in Douglas County Tuesday, but warnings were listed late Tuesday night.

The Bergen Rock fire was 100 percent contained as of 8:30 p.m., the Douglas County Sheriff's office said. The fire was about 2 acres.

Another fire was burning in a very remote area east of Rampart Range. The Fern Creek fire was 10 acres according to Rampart Helicopters. No evacuation or pre-evacuations have been ordered at this time.

12:20 a.m. Pueblo Interagency Fire Dispatch center estimates the Black Forest fire at 7,800 acres.

12:10 a.m. New pre-evacuation area from Burgess Road south to Old Ranch Road and Poco Road. The western boundary for this area is Milam Road and the eastern boundary is Vollmer Road. Residents in this area should be prepared to leave.

Deputies investigating a looting report on Teachout Road.

12:05 a.m. From El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark via Facebook: "Just left the incident command post in Black Forest. Every agency working around the clock. Disaster recovery center for El Paso County being set up within 48 hours. Another press conference at 9 am. Heading to joint info center now. Say prayers for our community."

From the Sheriff's Office: Citizens can call 719-444-8300 for info. on Black Forest Fire - Please use this number instead of calling local emergency numbers.

Shelters: Human shelters have been established at Palmer Ridge High School and New Life Church.

Large Animal Shelters are established at the Norris Penrose Equestrian Center and the Elbert County Fairgrounds (95 Ute Avenue, Kiowa, CO. 303-718-3343).

The Flying W Ranch is accepting horses, but NEEDS hay donations. Please call ahead to 499-2324.

12:01 a.m. Police and deputies are staying in the evacuation area all night. Their goal is to avoid the looting that accompanied last year's Waldo Canyon fire. If you're caught going into the evacuation area, you will be arrested, officials say.

From reporter Jakob Rodgers: Some thick, thick smoke here at Ayer Road and Meridian Road.

11:54 p.m. Hearing another structure fire in the area of Shoup and Black Forest Roads. Pueblo firefighters are now on scene and helping out. Some fire crews are getting a brief break to eat now that fresh firefighters are arriving on scene.

11:48 p.m. More pre-evacuations residents in the area from Latigo Boulevard south to Stapleton Drive / Meridian and east to Highway 24 should prepare to leave their homes.

Also: Guy Ranch Road south to Stapleton Drive / Eastonville  Road. east to Elbert Road.

11:37 p.m. From Colorado Springs Police:

DUE TO MUTUAL AID WITH EPSO ON WILDFIRE, CSPD IS CURRENTLY ON ACCIDENT ALERT STATUS AND ON PRIORITY ONE DISPATCH STATUS ONLY. CSFD IS ON MODIFIED DISPATCH TO ACCOMMODATE EMERGENCY CALLS.
THE PUBLIC IS ADVISED TO CONTACT CSPD AND CSFD VIA 911 FOR EMERGENCY SERVICES ONLY AT THIS TIME. FOR NON-LIFE THREATENING AND COLD MATTERS, THE PUBLIC IS ASKED TO CONTACT 444-7000 AFTER CSPD HAS PROVIDED A MEDIA RELEASE ABOUT RESUMING NORMAL RESPONSE OPERATIONS.


ACCIDENT ALERT STATUS PROCEDURES: Drivers are reminded if they are involved in a traffic accident with no fatality or injury requiring medical attention, no driver involved is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and no damage to public property such as a street sign or utility pole has occurred, drivers should exchange information and follow the procedure for completing a counter (cold) report. Drivers can either pick up a traffic accident report form at any of the police department substations or they can go on line at Springsgov.com and go to the CSPD homepage/Forms & Documents/Counter Reporting.

 

11:33 p.m. Big effort underway to save homes still standing in the area of Herring and Swan roads.

11:29 p.m. Evacuation update: The evacuation area has been expanded on its southeast corner. Residents along Goodson Road, south to Rex Road and east to Eastonville Road are ordered to leave their homes. Officials say more homes will likely be placed under pre-evacuation status in that area.

11:19 p.m. Weather Service forecast in Black Forest fire area: Winds tonight blowing west at 3 mph. Gusts to 15 mph. Cooler Wednesday with high in the 80s, south wind by afternoon with gusts hitting 30 mph.

11:07 p.m. Gov. John Hickenlooper said he's got no numbers on the state's disaster relief effort. "This is unfolding -- this is real time."

10:52 p.m. From reporter Jakob Rodgers: A disaster recovery center will be established within 48 hours at El Paso County Citizens Service Center off Garden of the Gods Road.

10:49 p.m.  Black Hills Energy reports 2387 customers without natural gas service in Black Forest. Service was shot off to help firefighters.

10:44 p.m. Evacuated area now covers about 55 square miles. That's more than 35,000 acres. Firefighters are working within the area to protect homes. More than 60 homes have burned. One good sign: Highway 83 has reopened to traffic as the main battle moves east.

10:38 p.m. Large task force of firefighters headed to Meridian and Ayers in a bid to stop the fire's progress. Fire has crossed Meridian. Next line of defense is Eastonville Road.

10:29 p.m. Air Force says they're working to get planes and flight crews ready to battle the Black Forest Fire first thing Wednesday.

We're hearing that a spot fire has jumped Meridian Road. East of Meridian, the fire will hit grasslands, where it will move faster, but could be easier to stop.

10:20 p.m. Evacuation area expanded: Mandatory Evacuation for Black Forest fire - East of Meridian to Eastonville, Ayer North all the way to Hodgen.

10:19 p.m. Official update: 5,469 people evacuated from 1,966 homes. Fire officials working tonight to determine how many houses damaged and destroyed. Estimates: 60-80 structures burned in blaze that spanned more than 7,500 acres.

Six helicopters and one air tanker battled the fire Tuesday along with scores of firefighters and 36 fire engines.

10:14 p.m. Maketa says Type 1 command team on way to Colorado Springs for Black Forest fire. Air Force planes expected to join fight Wednesday.

Sheriff says goal tonight is to form anchor points that will lead to containment of fire. Fire is now uncontained.

10:06 p.m. Update from Sheriff Terry Maketa: Fire has consumed more than 7,500 acres. 155 firefighters engaged along with 130 police an deputies.

Evacuation area: Tahosa to Meridian between Hodgen and Burgess. "Those locations are holding."

We know there are structures damaged we do not have a count. Our incident commander is estimating between 40 and 60, we believe it is higher than that.

9:56 p.m. Congressman Doug Lamborn says he's got a verbal agreement to get C-130s from Peterson Air Force Base's 302nd Airlift Wing fighting the fire.

The wing has planes equipped with a Forest Service system to drop retardant to slow wildfires.

"We hope this fast, coordinated response from local and federal authorities will help get the Black Forest Fire put out as quickly as possible and save lives and property," Lamborn said in a news release.

9:46 p.m. We're 14 minutes away from an official update on the fire. We're expecting Gov. John Hickenlooper, who will be there, to declare an emergency regarding the Black Forest fire.
Update on pre-evacuation from El Paso County Sheriff: East of Meridian to Eastonville, Ayer North all the way to Hogden.

Third emergency shelter has opened: Elbert County Fairgrounds 95 Ute Ave, Kiowa, CO.

9:20 p.m. While we have no official dimensions on fire, here's what we know. The western boundary of the burned area, as reported by firefighters was at Milam Road. Flames went south to Shoup Road, north -- in spots -- to Hodgen Road. The fire ran east past Vollmer Road, but had not reached Meridian Road. The mandatory evacuation area covers The evacuation area (see map on this page) covers 25,600 acres.

9:17 p.m. The Black Forest Animal Sanctuary, which had been on standby,  reported  that they began evacuating 80 cats, 20 dogs and several horses about an hour and a half ago. There were 20 volunteers with others on standby.

9:16 p.m. Sheriff's Office reports Flying W now taking horses. They are in need of hay. Call 499-2324 to arrange.

9:13 p.m. From reporter Jesse Byrnes: Gov. John Hickenlooper will be at the 10 p.m. briefing, per his Twitter.

9:02 p.m. Firefighters are saving what they can, but they're having to let some homes burn. A home is burning off Herring Road south of Hodgen. "If that structure is evacuated, you can disregard."

8:52 p.m. From El Paso County: Mandatory Evacuations: The areas south of Hodgen Road, north of Burgess Road, east of Tahosa Lane, and west of Meridian Road are under a mandatory evacuation. At this time, residents will not be allowed back in once they leave the area. This does not include High Forest Ranch.

Road Closures: Highway 83 from Shoup Road to Hodgen Road, Hodgen Road from Highway 83 to Black Forest Road. Black Forest Road from Hodgen Road to Shoup Road, and Shoup Road from Black Forest to Highway 83 are closed indefinitely.
 
Shelters: Human shelters have been established at Palmer Ridge High School and New Life Church.

Large Animal Shelters are established at the Norris Penrose Equestrian Center and the Elbert County Fairgrounds (95 Ute Avenue, Kiowa, CO. 303-718-3343).

8:46 p.m. From the El Paso County Sheriff's Office: "Pre-Evacuation for Black Forest Fire - East of Meridian, from Ayer North to Murphy this includes all forested area in that zone." Those in pre-evac area needs to be packed to leave. All roads in evacuation area closed. Evacuation area is: from Hodgen to the North and Burgess to the south to get out and stay out. The eastern boundary of the evacuation zone is Meridian Road and the western boundary is Tahosa Road.

8:44 p.m. From The Gazette's Pula Davis, who lives on the edge of the evacuation zone: There are reports that the Community Center and the Country Store at Shoup and Black Forest are probably gone. La Foret also has damage. Apparently the gas station at the store exploded. One resident who lives on Black Forest Rd., just outside the evacuation zone, did not leave, due to illness. He says he heard explosions. Hopefully no one has been seriously hurt. But our rural area will obviously not be the same.

8:34 p.m. Firefighters are talking about going on the offensive near Vollmer Road. It sounds like they are gradually chewing away at the fire, cutting its flanks as the blaze slows on its march east.

8:26 p.m. Fort Carson has opened a shelter for military families:"Soldiers and families dislocated by the fire can find shelter at the post’s Youth Center, Building 1518, 5950 Ware Street, 526-2690. The center can house up to 100 people and is also accepting pets. People will be accepted on a first come, first served basis."

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office estimates 3,600 people have been evacuated from more than 1,200 homes.

The Red Cross is operating two shelters:

• Palmer Ridge High School

• New Life Church, 11035 Voyager Pkwy., Colorado Springs

The Red Cross has a website where evacuees can mark themselves as "safe and well" and families can find updates on loved ones: http://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php

8:24 p.m. One fire crew is pulling out toward Meridian Road on a dirt road. "They have civilians with them that they are trying to protect."


8:15 p.m. We are updating the Black Forest fire evacuation map as more information is released by officials. http://ow.ly/lWtHc

8:10 p.m. Firefighters are working to douse burning houses. One call: We have a house you can save." Firefighters on the radio have said many houses have been lost. No exact count available.

8:05 p.m. Pikes Peak region tweet: "I wish it was winter."

8:04 p.m. From the El Paso County Sheriff: If you are looking for someone who might be at a Red Cross shelter go to http://ow.ly/lWt3R . You can register or search on that site.


8 p.m. Crews now on Vollmer road for "structure extinguishment." Officials have no size estimate on fire and no count on how many homes have burned. It doesn't sound pretty.

7:56 p.m. From reporter Jesse Byrnes: New Life Church, one of the Red Cross shelters, has capacity for around 93 families and is about half full, their organizer said.

7:53 p.m. Firefighters are having to pull back from flash-over conditions near Herring and Shoup Road.

7:45 p.m. Black Forest Animal Sanctuary has 20 volunteers and another 40 on standby to evacuate 80 cats, 20 dogs, and some horses.  They have trucks ready to go from the facility at 16750 Thompson Road.

7:36 p.m. Sheriff Terry Maketa is asking people who need fire information to call (719) 444-8300 for information on the Black Forest fire. Do not call emergency numbers.

7:34 p.m. The military has moved with unprecedented speed on this fire. The Army has helicopters dropping water. Local Air Force Bases have sent equipment and firefighters.

7:29 p.m. Next update from officials set for 10 p.m.

7:25 p.m. From reporter Ryan Maye Handy: The Black Forest Fire is not contained. At all.

7:23 p.m. From El Paso County Sheriff's Office: Flying W Ranch is NOT an evacuation location for large animals.

7:21 p.m. Firefighters report Black Forest blaze is pushing east of Vollmer Road toward Pinery development.

7:18 p.m. Fire is now burning in spots south of Shoup Road. Firefighters beginning to move assets east to Meridian Road.

7:16 p.m. Maketa says conditions "very similar" to Waldo Canyon fire -- 2,530 under mandatory evacuation orders, 383 under voluntary evacuation advisory.

7:14 p.m. From reporter Jakob Rodgers: "Deputies here are adamant: if you try to get into the evac zone, they will arrest you."

7:11 p.m. Evacuation area is now 40 square miles. "We had several people that decided not to evacuate. They have changed their minds," El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said. "That's now part of the evacuation effort."

Maketa asked people near, but outside the evacuation zone to make plans to leave their homes now.

Fifteen strike teams have been requested.

7:06 p.m. Officials: "We have gone from an evac to somewhat of a search and rescue." They're asking people to get out of the area, from Hodgen to the North and Burgess to the south to get out and stay out. The eastern boundary of the evacuation zone is Meridian Road and the western boundary is Tahosa Road. Officials say state resources are taxed by multiple fires.

"Our focus is rescue, evacuation and let firefighters do their jobs."

7:05 p.m. Officials say "We are dealing with a very fast-moving fire." The fire is about four miles wide.

7:03 p.m. Reporter Jakob Rodgers interviewed people who fled Black Forest near Gun Club Trail and High Line Place who said they saw houses burning as they fled the neighborhood.

Reporters say there were huge flames burning through thick, dry forest; multiple explosions, possibly from propane tanks.

Firefighters have reported flames 300-feet tall.

7 p.m. Firefighters are using military helicopters to slow the fire's travel to north and south. It's pushing east quickly.

6:58 p.m. Firefighters: "We're not going to be able to hold it at Vollmer. Vollmer is a no-hold."

6:57 p.m. Firefighters report that the fire is jumping Vollmer Road. It's pushing east a rapid pace.

6:48 p.m. Forest Service air tanker is expected over the Black Forest fire in 10 minutes. Firefighters report 300-foot flame lengths. The goal is to hold the fire at Vollmer Road.

6:45 p.m. Reporter Jesse Byrnes reports that CH-47 Chinook Helicopters from Fort Carson are over the Black Forest fire.

6:41 p.m. From reporter Jakob Rodgers on the scene: Just was told that it's coming pretty fast while at Vollmer and Shoup roads

6:31 p.m. Firefighters working to save Wolford Elementary School near Black Forest Road and Elementary Drive. "I think we can save the school."

6:27 p.m. From El Paso County Sheriff's Office: Evacuation does not include Forest Heights Ranch

6:24 p.m. From reporter Daniel Chacon: Overheard on the scanner -- "Command to all evac units. If you are north of Shoup, east of Black Forest, get out of there now."

6:19 p.m. From reporter Alison Noon: Five families have made Palmer Ridge their temporary home as we wait to see what happens next.

6:17 p.m. Firefighters say the blaze has jumped Herring and houses are involved. Firefighters is beginning to pull back to Vollmer Road to stop fire.

6:13 p.m. Firefighters: "It looks like it's crossing Herring Road really quick."

6:11 p.m. From El Paso County Sheriff's Office via Twitter: Info from Palmer Ridge Shelter Capacity: 300 People - New Life Church Capacity: 330 People.


6:09 p.m.
Firefighters are trying to make a stand on Herring Road. "We're going to have a hard time holding this," one firefighter said on the radio.

6:05 p.m. The Sheriff's Office says the next official media update will happen at 7 p.m.

6:02 p.m. The Army is on the way. This from Fort Carson: Fort Carson Fire Department and the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade are preparing to support airdrop firefighting efforts north east of Colorado Springs in the Black Forest community. 

Command and control teams from Fort Carson’s Directorate of Emergency Services and the brigade are heading to the El Paso County Incident Command Post to establish ground communications with air crews. Once helicopter crews have positive communication with the ICP, they will depart from Butts Army Airfield and provide water drops as need to support firefighting efforts.

6:01 p.m. From reporter Ryan May Handy: Irate man evacuating yells out his truck window: "Where are the helicopters?!"

5:55 p.m. Firefighters reporting spot fires approaching Hodgen Road between Herring Road and Black Forest Road.

5:51 p.m. Fire officials are working to shut off electrical and gas service across a wide stretch of Black Forest. The request would cover an area along Shoup Road east to Herring Road.

5:49 p.m. Mandatory Evacuation Boundaries - South of Hodgen, North of Shoup , West of Meridian, East of Peregrine Way

5:46 p.m. Report: On Gun Club Trail near Wild Oak an elderly male trapped in a pond. We're hearing  that homes burned in that area.

5:40 p.m. Update on evacuations from Sheriff's Office on Twitter: New Evacuation Boundries - South of Hodgen, North of Shoup , West of Vollmer, East of Peregrine Way.

5:37 p.m. From reporter Jakob Rodgers: Fire burned on both sides of the road just north of Black Forest Road and Gun Club.

5:30 p.m. Firefighters are trying to reach people who may be trapped in a home. They say they're trying to find a way through smoke and flames to reach them, according to radio traffic.

5:29 p.m. From El Paso County Sheriff's Office vis Twitter: Joint Information Center activated; keep watch, numbers will be posted for citizens and media shortly.

5:24 p.m. Reporters say the fire is moving east and has crossed Black Forest Road.

 

ORIGINAL STORY: As many as six homes in Black Forest have burned in a fast-growing wildfire and dozens of homes have been evacuated, according to emergency radio calls and county officials.

The homes are on or near Peregrine Way in the Falcon Forest neighborhood just west of Black Forest Regional Park, which also was evacuated.

Residents received reverse 911 calls, and authorities were going door to door to warn residents about the fast-growing blaze.

The fire near Shoup Road and Highway 83, close to Flying Horse, was reported shortly before 2 p.m.

The evacuation area is bounded by Shoup Road on the south, Fox Chase Way on the north, Holmes Road on the east and Tahosa Lane on the west, according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. 

The Colorado Springs Fire Department says the fire is about 15 acres. Sunny Smaldino, Colorado Springs Fire Department public information officer, said the department is assisting with seven engines. Crews are also being sent from Douglas County and other regional fire departments.

The Red Cross has opened an evacuation shelter at Palmer Ridge High School at 19255 Frontage Road in Monument.

Also, New Life Church, at 11025 Voyager Pkwy. in Colorado Springs, has been opened to people displaced by the fire in Black Forest.

An employee at New Life confirmed the El Paso County Sheriff's Office asked for their assistance and an activity center inside the church has been set up for displaced residents, who have already started to arrive.

Stay with www.gazette.com as we continue to update this story.

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