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LIVE UPDATES: El Paso County Sheriff's office expands mandatory evacuation area north

By: The Gazette
June 12, 2013 Updated: June 13, 2013 at 4:43 am
Black Forest Fire Evacuation Map
photo - Flames continue to burn off Burgess Road through the night Wednesday, June 12, 2013 as crews work to contain the Black Forest fire. Michael Ciaglo/The Gazette
Flames continue to burn off Burgess Road through the night Wednesday, June 12, 2013 as crews work to contain the Black Forest fire. Michael Ciaglo/The Gazette 


4:40 a.m. Several crews are working on Tahosa Lane, additional crews are headed to join them, according to the scanner.

4:30 a.m. Fire restrictions are in place across the region. Elbert County, north of the Black Forest fire, has implemented Stage III restrictions. The sheriff's office called for mandatory evacuations Wednesday.
Douglas County, northwest of the blaze, is on Stage 1 fire restrictions.

4:15 a.m. Crews have been using a lot of water overnight. Radio chatter covers several water tenders heading out to fill back up and going back out to hot spots.

4:10 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.

3:15 a.m. On the Radio: Firefighters are working on the flames approaching homes on Burgess east of Vollmer. "Looks like we can take of this with what we have."

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.

2:50 a.m. Officials have not expanded evacuation orders since a large area was been placed in pre-evacuation status arount 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. That region is on the east side of Interstate 25 to Highway 83 from North Gate Boulevard in the south to Highway 105 in the North. Tha could change if the weather Thursday fuels the flames.

2:45 a.m. Radio chatter: A home is reported threatened, with flames 20 feet from residence on Vollmer. Additional firefighters are checking other areas, or headed to fight flames near Tahosa Lane.

2:40 a.m. Numbers recap (from news brifing Wednesday evening):
Homes destroyed: 92
Firefighters on scene: 487
Police: 112
Size of fire: 8,500-12,000 acres
Evacuees: 9,500 people from 3,400 homes
Agencies: 28 fire districts, 8 police agencies
Containment: Zero

2:25 a.m. Fort Carson is pitching in to help Colorado Springs Fire department.
Thanks to a mutual aid agreement, Fort Carson dispatched a structural fire engine to backfill Colorado Springs Fire Station 4 for residential responses in that area (southwest Colorado Springs, off Lake Avenue).

Other Fort Carson troops are also part of firefighting efforts against the Black Forest fire. Helicopters from Fort Carson’s 4th Combat Aviation Brigade provided four aircraft in support with the Colorado National Guard to provide Bambi Bucket water drops. For a different look at water drops, watch the video at Soldiers from 52nd Engineer Battalion, 555 Engineer Brigade provided four D7 bulldozers to cut firebreaks along the northern flank of the fire.

2:05 a.m. A crew has finished a loop around Wilderness Drive and did not find any structures currently at risk or ablaze, they said on the radio. Some flames were heading up a hill from the area near Vollmer and Hodgen. No homes were currently at risk, but firefighters are watching. Elsewhere, Ellicott crews were at the staging area and ready to assist.

1:50 a.m. Firefighters on the radio reported a house was fully engulfed on Tewkesbury Court. Others were checking a home on Vessey for a deck or garage that was on fire.

1:35 a.m. From reporter Jesse Byrnes: A red flag warning will go into effect at 11 a.m. Thursday. The National Weather Service projects south winds at 10 mph around 11 a.m. Thursday for northern El Paso County and between 10 to 20 mph in late morning to early afternoon with gusts of around 30 to 35 mph.

Most areas in the burn area are seeing winds of 5 to 12 mph, and that's expected for the rest of the night. The area will see temperatures later Thursday between 84-91 degrees, reaching its hottest point around 3 to 4 p.m.

There is a 10 percent chance of thunderstorms. It is doubtful that the area will see rain, and most precipitation will come in the form of light sprinkles with lightning and gusty winds.

1:30 a.m. The founder of a large dog rescue organization in Colorado Springs fled her house as quickly as she could Tuesday with a family of four and 25 pets, mostly dogs. It was the house where Theresa Strader nurtured Lily, an abused, disfigured Italian Greyhound whose death led her to open a kennel for puppy mill survivors with a "no-kill policy."

Strader found out Wednesday morning that her home of 17 years, the original National Mill Dog Rescue location, burned down in a fire in Black Forest. She is safe with her family and animals at the kennel's location in Peyton, where she is staying until long-term arrangements are made.

"You can’t just impose on some friends when you have so many dogs," Michele Burchfield, the organization's communications coordinator, said. "Her number one concern is always the animals."

At least five other National Mill Dog Rescue volunteers have been evacuated from Black Forest, including Burchfield. The organization has 300 active volunteers.

The Peyton kennel filled in mid-May after a 64-dog rescue, Burchfield said, and the organization was not in a position to offer space to people and animals displaced by the fire.

1:20 a.m. This is still a very active fire, even at this time of night. Radio: Flames are pushing toward untouched homes in the 8500 block of Wilderness. More flames are threatening undamaged homes near Herring and Juniper.

1:10 a.m. The fire crew working in the Sylvan Meadows neighborhood of Black Forest requested an additional engine, according to scanner traffic. Another crew in a different area is moving on after achieving a "pretty good knock down."

1 a.m. On the radio to a fire crew: "Stay mobile and do what you can do." others are asking how close the fire is to Highway 83.

12:50 a.m. Two water tenders sitting at Black Forest and Shoup roads awaiting possible orders to move father north, according to scanner traffic.

12:40 a.m. On the scanner: A fire burning a barn near Remington and Mesa is threatening a home. A tender and brush truck are on-scene and almost out of water. A few homes may be gone on Tahosa Lane; crews are waiting for winds to calm down before going in and checking.

12:35 a.m. Fire crews were alerted to explosive materials in a garage on Vollmer Road via radio. Other radio calls were giving turn-by-turn directions so fire crews could help with fires.

12:30 a.m. Grass fires are headed for trees, and firefighters are concerned that more houses will be at risk, according to radio traffic. Sounds like even more crews are answering the call for aid.

12:25 a.m. From reporter Jesse Byrnes via Twitter: Safeway manager in Falcon giving away roasted chickens, water & bread for evacuees. RVs & trailers in lot.

12:15 a.m. Firefighters on the radio describe a "wall of fire" near Vollmer. Additional equipment is headed to the neighborhood.
They reported that one home on Pine Glen is fully involved. Flames creeping up on nearby home, firefighters are working on it.

12:05 a.m. Firefighters reported a Black Forest property owner was digging fire break near Black Foest Road with a front loader Wednesday night.
Fresher crews are coming in to fight spot fires, letting others head for some much deserved rest. They are also requesting more water resources.

11:45 p.m. Fire crews are moving from spot to spot.
"They need a lot more resources here," a radio call from a crew in the middle of the Black Forest burn.
Fire commander to another crew: "If you can make a difference, make a difference."

11:25 p.m. Heard on the scanner: Firefighters working the blaze came across a "group of guys" who had been doing some civilian firefighting in Black Forest all day. The men were asked to leave, and Colorado Springs Police have been contacted.

11:20 p.m. Colorado Springs police had been on "accident alert" status to free up officers from fender-benders so they could help with the Black Forest fire. The department resumed normal operations tonight.

11:10 p.m. From Monument's state Rep. Amy Stephens via Facebook: "We received the PRE-evacuation notice. Packing now. Nick texted us what he wanted us to take out of his room while he is out East. Will be at the Service Center tomorrow if we are not evacuated."

11 p.m. From reporter Jesse Byrnes via Twitter: "Falcon Walmart assistant manager called it "Camp Walmart" referring to the about 40 RVs and trailers parked outside. Double here last night. "

10:50 p.m. In addition to fighting fire, some people battling the Black Forest blaze are playing cowboy. Officials have gotten several calls to round up loose livestock tonight.

10:40 p.m. The Elbert County Sheriff's Office reports a Noah's Ark at their fairgrounds.

"Elbert County Fairgrounds remains open with space for evacuees and animals. Total count of animals currently at the Fairgrounds is as follows: 28 chickens; 216 horses, 5 drafts/14 foals; 5 cows, 2 calves; 27 Alpacas; 14 dogs; 25 cats; 22 goats; 1 ducks; 4 burros; 2 guinea pigs; 3 sheep; 19 miniature horses; 19 mules; 8 lamas; 3 stallions; 1 yak."

10:25 p.m. From El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark via Facebook: "Colorado Black Forest Fire mandatory evacuation includes 1,966 homes in 24,000 acres; fire is at 7,500 to 8,000. Disaster Assistance Center opens at 8 tomorrow at Citizens Service Center on Garden of the Gods Road, then trip to Denver. Hoping our fire situation will improve. So glad to have Harvey's Type 1 fire team back in El Paso County during this critical time. Sheriff's Office and everyone are working so hard to inform residents and fight this fire monster."

Firefighters can be heard on radio battling a structure fire on Vollmer Road, "The house is a loser, but I do not want it to get off the property."

10:20 p.m. Firefighters are battling flames at Winchester and Hodgen roads. "It's getting up pretty well."

10:10 p.m. A Red Flag warning has been issued for high fire danger covering all of southeastern Colorado Thursday. Forecasters expect another hot, dry and windy day.

10 p.m. Firefighters report flare-ups inside the Black Forest Fire footprint. Hearing about a house fire off Shoup Road and another fire threatening structures also on the south side of the fire.

9:50 p.m. Still plenty of room at Red Cross shelters.

Palmer Ridge High School has 93 residents

Elbert County Fairgrounds has 833 residents

9:40 p.m.  A large area has been placed in pre-evacuation status. The new area, just added by officials, is on the east side of Interstate 25 to Highway 83 from North Gate Boulevard in the south to Highway 105 in the North.

Pre-evacuation status means that residents in that area should get packed and ready, and stay alert for an evacuation order.

The fire is calm in the area tonight, but winds are expected to kick up Thursday that could drive flames in that direction.

9:37 p.m. Numbers recap:

Homes destroyed: 92

Firefighters on scene: 487

Police: 112

Size of fire: 8,500-12,000 acres

Evacuees: 9,500 people from 3,400 homes

Agencies: 28 fire districts, 8 police agencies

Containment: Zero

9:27 p.m. Homes are still burning in the Black Forest fire. Just heard two calls about house fires in the burn area. Both are on roads that saw significant fire activity Tuesday night. Sounds like unburned areas within the fire's footprint are going up, even as the fire's growth slows significantly.

One hint tonight: If you live within 10 miles of Black Forest, don't barbecue. Firefighters have been called to several homes tonight for that reason.

9:17 p.m. National Guard troops are taking over for police and deputies at some checkpoints within the Black Forest fire evacuation area. Officials have worked to keep tight security in the area to prevent looting.

9:07 p.m. Fort Carson soldiers are playing a familiar role in battling the Black Forest fire. Troops with the 52nd Engineer Battalion used their Army bulldozers to cut line on the northern edge of the blaze. Fort Carson bulldozers also stopped the northern advance of the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire, which threatened the Air Force Academy.

Fort Carson helicopters have also played a huge role in Black forest, dropping more than 142,000 gallons of water.

“This has been a tremendous team effort working with our local and state authorities, along with our military installations in and around Colorado Springs,” said Maj. Earl Brown, Fort Carson spokesman. “Truly a herculean interagency effort from everyone involved on the ground and in the skies.”

8:55 p.m. If you haven't, it's a good time to register your cellular phone for reverse 9-1-1. Here's how:

8:45 p.m. Firefighters are plenty busy tonight, but they're starting to catch a break. Trucks and crews are being rotated off the line for food, fuel and rest. That's a sign that it's a calmer night on the Black Forest fire. Tuesday night, every firefighter was running to save what they could.

One big thing that makes the calmer pace possible: There are three times more firefighters in Black Forest tonight than there were Tuesday and the number seems to be growing by the hour.

8:35 p.m. Update from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak region: "Between the two locations, the temporary shelter at Palmer Ridge High School and their 610 Abbot Lane location, Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR) has taken in more than 250 animals displaced by the Black Forest Fire. Doors remain open to any animals needing shelter. The Palmer Ridge High School shelter has taken in more than 100 animals consisting of dogs, cats, birds, gerbils and guinea pigs. 610 Abbot Lane has taken in more than 150 animals including dogs, cats, birds, gerbils, sugar gliders, snakes, turtles, guinea pigs, ferrets, and chinchillas."

8:24 p.m. Update on Red Cross shelters: "The American Red Cross has the following shelters open to support those who have evacuated their homes due to wildfire activity. Palmer Ridge High School, 93 residents;  Kiowa High School, 0  residents;  Elbert County Fairgrounds, 833 residents.
The shelters remain open and are accepting residents."

8:14 p.m. Firefighters on scanner: It's looking good to the east and to the north. "That's some of the best news I've heard all day."

8:11 p.m. Weather could help firefighters tonight. Winds are expected to calm overnight with low temperatures in the 50s, according to the National Weather Service office in Pueblo. Night is a crucial time for the firefighting effort, when they work to contain the flanks of the fire before daytime heat and wind whip flames back up.

8:07 p.m. Firefighter on scanner:"Our line is holding good and it's really calming down."

7:47 p.m. Evacuation recap from El Paso County:

Mandatory: Northern boundary is Walker Road/Evans Road, western boundary is Highway 83, east boundary is Eastonville Road, south boundary is Burgess Road/ Rex Road.

Pre-evacuation- The following areas are now under pre-evacuation: The southern and eastern edges of the fire area:

 Area 1 - Burgess Road south to Stapleton Drive, and Vollmer Road east to Meridian Road.

 Area 2 - Latigo Blvd. south to Stapleton Drive, and Meridian Road east to Highway 24.

Area 3 - Guy Ranch Road south to Stapleton Road, and Eastonville Road east to Elbert Road.

 Area 4 - Burgess Road south to Old Ranch Road and Poco Road, and Milam Road east to Vollmer Road.

7:38 p.m. Hearing of a fully-involved house on Remington Road.

What caused the fire? Terry Maketa said he doesn't have an answer now: “We don’t have any indication of lightning in the area, which we did when we had the fire on the Air Force Academy. Other than that, it could be accidental. It could be many things, and that’s what we’re looking into.”

7:30 p.m. From reporter Jakob Rodgers: "A motorist just passed me and said there's fire on Clydesdale Road."

From scanner: Firefighters battling structure fire at Cypress and Ponderosa.

7:27 p.m. From El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark via Twitter: Lawyers will be available at Disaster Recovery Center on Wednesday from 2-6 pm. Free legal advice for fire victims. Disaster Assistance Center opens tomorrow at 8 am at Citizen Service Center 1575 Garden of Gods Rd.

7:22 p.m. Sheriff Terry Maketa on possible human cost of the fire:

“I don’t have any report of injuries to any of the responders or citizens. We did get our first missing person that we are investigating, but we don’t have a confirmation or any information on that. Again, some of those areas are still so hot we can’t get people into them.”

7:10 p.m. While so many in the community step up during events like the Black Forest fire, there  are always some crooks who try to turn tragedy into a criminal opportunity. This from El Paso County: "Be careful of scams during the Black Forest fire odd phone calls, emails, asking for personal information. Report to local law enforcement."

7:05 p.m. Some explanation of the voluntary evacuation area in northern Colorado Springs from police chief Pete Carey:

“We have issued a voluntary evacuation alert for residents and businesses that are north of Old Ranch Road and east of I-25,”  he said.

“This is precautionary and affords people more time to plan for and leave the area much like the sheriff said. What it does mean is the fire is getting closer to that area of the city,” he said. “CSPD now has roving patrol officers in that area, and they’ll be stopping cars and helping people and assisting them with their voluntary evacuation. Please be careful driving in this area. There’s a very good possibility there may be limited visibility because of smoke. And if you are driving this area, expect to see emergency vehicles like police officers with their lights on.”

7 p.m. Two tweets of note -- From Care and Share Food Bank: "This community is so impressive! We collected 124,000 pounds of food and beverages today! THANK YOU Colorado."

From Dan Woolridge: "We're numb, in shock, in & out of tears. Thinking what to do next in near term & long, yet thinking this is unthinkable. #blackforestfire"


6:52 p.m.: From reporter Jakob Rodgers: Just watched 20 minutes ago as flames devoured a garage at 17595 Table Rock Road. Elbert County Wildland firefighters quickly doused the small flames surrounding the garage.

Reporter Jesse Byrnes says dozens of people are at Pine Creek High School watching Black Forest fire develop.

6:45 p.m. One consistent problem in the Black Forest fire: Water.

Local ranchers are offering up their ponds to refill tenders, which are a primary source of water for firefighters trying to defend homes from the Black Forest fire.

6:31 p.m. From the Sheriff's Office via Twitter: El Paso County Fairgrounds needs water buckets, halters, lead ropes, hay for horses. Deliver to fairgrounds in Calhan. Room for 100 more horses.

6:28 p.m. Here's our updated evacuation map:

We're updating the map as soon as we get word of changes.

Need help, or want to lend a hand?

6:22 p.m. More from the press conference: Maketa said 487 personnel engaged in the fire, plus 112 law enforcement officers.

“I really need to give credit to the National Guard and Fort Carson. They’ve truly been phenomenal. They’re actually relieving the law enforcement resources that are at the checkpoints, taking over those checkpoints and freeing up law enforcement to go in and actively engage in the expanded evacuation as well as begin counting the homes and doing an assessment on the damage.”

6:15 p.m. Firefighters and dispatchers say the fire is flaring in Cathedral Pines on the north end of Milam Road.

6:10 p.m. List of homes impacted and their status:

Maketa said homes south of Shoup Road from Highway 83 to Herring Road likely fine.

Meanwhile, Interstate 25 remains a virtual parking lot from Colorado Springs to Monument, traffic cameras show.

6:05 p.m. From reporter Jakob Rodgers: "Five minutes ago, I saw fire crawling along grass next to a house on Table Rock Road."

"There is heavy, heavy smoke and large pieces of ash falling on Table Rock Road, where flames are advancing. El Paso County Sheriff's deputies were in the neighborhood south of Walker Road marking mailboxes to indicate where homeowners had been notified of the evacuation."

6:01 p.m. Firefighters are reporting the Black Forest fire is still rolling. "We've got a lot of activity here," one said on the radio.

5:55 p.m. The city of Colorado Springs reports that the University of the Rockies is offering counseling to families impacted by the Black Forest Fire. 

El Paso County Sheriff's Office says the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak region is rescuing pets from the evacuation zone. "Call 473-1741 ext. 1 if you left your pet behind."

5:48 p.m. Readers are reporting severe backups on northbound Interstate 25 through El Paso County.

5:45 p.m. From reporter Ryan Maye Handy via Twitter: North of Shoup, around the area of Darr Road -- point of origin of Black Forest fire.

No cause given for fire. The fire continues jumping lines and remains uncontained.

From the Sheriff's Office: Adams County Fairgrounds in Brighton open to RVs, horses, livestock. Call first: 720-810-3288

5:38 p.m. More from Sheriff Terry Maketa:

“We’ve had incredible wind shifting and the winds have remained pretty consistent and that has done a lot of things we were not really expecting with the fire and that it that is has moved in two different directions now. It has moved to the northwest and also to the northeast.

“Right now we’re roughly at 8,500 acres affected by this fire. We anticipate possibly another 3,000 acres, bringing that total to around 11,000 to 12,000, depending on our weather conditions.”

“If you break that down, it affects somewhere between 9,000 and 9,500 citizens, people, and we’re looking at roughly 3,400 residences. On top of the residential properties, we have roughly 150 commercial properties and roughly 200 out buildings.”

“We have very dry conditions. The possibilities for this fire to continue to spread are extreme. If there is anything working to our advantage, it is the terrain. There is accessibility. We have a lot of roadways that we’re able to access and that the fire equipment is able to move through.”

Firefighters on the scanner say the blaze remains south of Walker Road at this time.

5:31 p.m. The Sheriff's Office says it has updated the list of damaged, destroyed and unscathed homes. A new list and a new link should be coming soon. The initial assessment, through noon, showed 92 homes destroyed Sheriff Terry Maketa said it's a partial list that is expected to grow.

5:21 p.m. Red Cross has opened a shelter in Kiowa at Kiowa High School  525 Comanche St, Kiowa, CO 80117.

5:17 p.m. Numbers:

Homes destroyed: 92

Firefighters on scene: 487

Police: 112

Size of fire: 8,500-12,000 acres

Evacuees: 9,500 people from 3,400 homes

Agencies: 28 fire districts, 8 police agencies

Containment: Zero

5:12 p.m. Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey says residents north of Old ranch Road and east of Interstate 25 should be prepared to evacuate. Police department has cars in the area "to assist with voluntary evacuation."

Carey said smoke is so thick in the area that drivers should use headlights.

Colorado Springs has 60 firefighters helping out on Black Forest fire.

5:11 p.m. Maketa says military is heavily involved in firefighting effort. "It's still very dangerous."

The crews going into assess homes have had to pull back because of danger. Maketa says Gleneagle area in danger.

5:07 p.m. Sheriff Terry Maketa: "Properties we identified as standing are now engulfed in flames."
The Sheriff's Office list of damaged and destroyed homes comes from a survey of 482 homes. 92 were destroyed.

Maketa says the fire is threatening Highway 83 the northern boundary of the fire is Walker Road. The next line of defense is County Line Road.

5:02 p.m. From reporter Andrea Sinclair:

Bill Fortune, Red Cross Pikes Peak chapter public information officer, said the agency reassessed their resources and the shelter locations following the relocation of evacuees from New Life Church on Interquest. Thick smoke worsened air conditions and refugees were mobilized to the high school in Monument.
"We have crews and volunteers on standby right now, and we are confident that the Red Cross has the resources necessary to assist evacuees," Fortune said.
Strong winds pushed the Black Forest fire northwest, expanding the evacuation zone north of I-25 and presenting the possibility of an increase of refugees Wednesday afternoon.

4:58 p.m. This in from the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance:

"Steve Bartolin, President and Chief Executive Officer of The BroAdmoor, has advised the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance that the food that was to be served at tomorrow's State of the City Luncheon for 500 plus member investors and community leaders will be prepared and delivered to the first responders today or tomorrow. We are most grateful to Steve Bartolin and The BroAdmoor for this significant gesture of support for our first responders and those they are working so hard to protect. The State of the City Luncheon will be rescheduled and payments made will be applied to a subsequent luncheon at The BroAdmoor."

4:52 p.m. The preliminary list shows 92 homes destroyed in the Black Forest Fire and five damaged. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office says the list will be updated. The partial list shows some streets were hit hard. Brentwood Drive and Meadow Glen Lane saw several houses gutted. Ravine Drive and Rusk Drive were also hit hard.

We'll expect more updates as the day progresses.

4:47 p.m. The Sheriff's Office has issued a preliminary list of houses in teh fire area that have been destroyed, and those left unscathed. The list is here:

It is a long list.

4:43 p.m. As drivers head out for the evening commute, northbound Interstate 25 is tangled from Fillmore Street to Baptist Road in Monument. Southbound traffic is snarling, too as drivers crane their necks to look at the massive smoke plume from teh Black Forest fire.

4:35 p.m. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office says the Black Forest fire is jamming phone lines in the Pikes Peak region. Deputies are asking people to use text messaging instead of calling, because it doesn't tie-up lines. The office gave a standard note of caution, though: "Please don't text and drive."

4:20 p.m. Colorado's Gov. John Hickenlooper announced he has signed a disaster declaration for the Black Forest fire, clearing the way for $5.5 million in fire funding. He also signed off for aid on the Royal Gorge fire.

4:10 p.m.: The Black Forest fire continued to frustrate efforts to contain it as it repeatedly jumped dozer lines and advanced east, north and west, driven by red-flag winds.

Firefighters also continue to be frustrated by cars blowing through closure notices on Highway 83 as well as Walker Road and Evans Road, according to conversations heard over emergency scanners channels.

They also complained of media helicopters violating closed airspace above the fire.

3:45 p.m.: The Black Forest fire "plumed up pretty big" on the east end as officials considered more mandatory evacuation north and west to clear people out of the path of the raging wildfire.

Scanner traffic continued to indicate houses breaking into fire. Crews were building bulldozer lines from the Black Forest Community Center and using the historic log structure as a command post as they took up defensive positions against the blaze, which was generating plumes of smoke visible for miles up and down the Front Range.

Highway 83 was closed north of Powers Boulevard after evacuees and first responders faced interference from sightseers clogging the road.


3:20 p.m.:
More evidence of the magnitude of the Black Forest fire and the lack of containment came with news a DC-10 was joining the aerial assault.

The DC-10 can hold up to 11,600 gallons of retardant. It is a newly contracted plane and considered a next-generation air tanker.

It has been dropping retardant on the Royal Gorge fire as well, said Rick Hatton, owner of 10 Air Carrier LLC, which owns the plane.

It is a very efficient firefighter, Hatton said, because of its massive retardant load.

"It's like sending four airplanes or more to the fire at one time," he said.

Hatton wasn't sure how many drops the plane will make on the Black Forest fire, which has rages on several fronts again Wednesday.

It refills in Pueblo.

3:15 p.m.: As the Black Forest fire exploded Wednesday and raced north, fire officials scrambled to evacuate neighborhoods in its path.

According to scanner traffic, officials were preparing to issue mandatory evacuation orders for Cherry Creek Crossing and Canterbury, both on the west side of Highway 83.

They also were planning to announce pre-evacuation orders for subdivisions on the Douglas and Elbert county borders -- Elk Creek Ranch, Whissler Ranch and Hawk Ridge.

It's an indication just how far out of control the fire is. The evacuation plans, which have not been officially announced, indicate that officials fear they can't stop it before it reaches the county line.

Coupled with the voluntary evacuation order issued by Colorado Springs for all neighborhoods north of Old Ranch Road, west to Interstate 25, a clear picture emerged of a fire raging in several directions with no seeming containment.

2:55 p.m.: Colorado Springs has issued a voluntary evacuation order to all areas north of Old Ranch Road within city limits and west to Interstate 25.

This includes Interquest Parkway as well as the Liberty Heights, Trail Ridge, Stone Crossing and Northgate neighborhoods up to and around North Gate Boulevard including Northgate Highlands, and Flying Horse Ranch.

Residents in those areas should prepare to leave in the event a mandatory evacuation order is issued.

2:32 p.m.: Elbert County began issuing mandatory evacuation orders as the Black Forest fire raged out of control, racing north toward Douglas and Elbert countites.

The area of southern Elbert County under evacuation is bounded by County Road 106 on north and North Elbert Road on the east according to the Elbert County Sheriff's Office

Also, scanner traffic indicates houses continue to burn within the fire zone including on Highline Place in the Black Forest Country Club and a string of houses on Harden Road near the Blue Spruce Estates on east Shoup Road.

2:25 p.m.: Scanner traffic indicates the mandatory evacuation area may be expanded yet again.

Officials are studying whether to enlarge the western boundary past Highway 83 to Roller Coaster Road. They also are considering pushing the boundary east, as well.

Meanwhile, a spotter on the top of Pikes Peak reports the Royal Gorge fire is just a wisp of smoke as seen from the 14,115-foot summit.

The Black Forest fire, on the other hand, is a huge dark plume rising to 15,000 feet with two fronts.

One is northwest of the point of origin an dheading north. Even from Pikes Peak it is obvious the fire is very active. A second front is near Meridian Road and Latigo Boulevard.

2:05 p.m.:  Reverse 9-1-1 calls are going out in the new mandatory evacuation area to clear a path before the Black Forest fire, which began racing north with towering flames.

With the closure of the shelter at New Life Church, the shelter at Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Road in Monument,  is the only evacuation site where people can remain with their pets overnight.

By 2 p.m., the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region had sheltered 146 small animals displaced by the Black Forest fire, said Katie Borremans, spokeswoman.

The list of pets includes dogs, cats, geese and even a sugar glider possum. Both locations are open for more small animals.

"We have some pretty large dogs here but livestock have to go to the fairgrounds," Borremans said.

1:51 p.m.: Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch is not in any immediate danger from the Black Forest fire but it has evacuated on orders of the Elbert County Office of Emergency Management.

The camp is located a few miles northeast of unincorporated Falcon, on North Elbert Road.

It had been on pre-evacuation status and due to the erratic growth of the fire, officials decided to evacuate as a precaution.

Scouts are being taken on school buses to the Kiowa fairgrounds where unit leaders will call parents of their troop to five updates.

Evacuation is expected to take up to four hours. Parents are being asked not to call to keep phone lines open.

Updates will be posted on the web site,

1:45 p.m.: Evacuees are being evacuated again. Folks who went to the shelter at New Life Church are being relocated due to intense smoke from the Black Forest fire.

They are being taken to Palmer Ridge High School in Monument and the New Life shelter is being closed.

1:40 p.m.: Officials are asking people to stay away from the Black Forest fire, especially along Highway 83 where sightseers are interfering with emergency vehicles trying to fight the massive blaze.

1:35 p.m.: Five air tankers are inbound as crews aim to pound the rapidly growing north edge of the Black Forest fire, which has raced ahead of strong southerly winds.

Scanner traffic indicates intense flames, crowning dangerously overhead and jumping roads, forced officials to withdraw firefighters to safe places.

1:25 p.m.: As reports on emergency scanners intensified with reports of fire crowning, jumping roads and Pine Cone Ranch "under assault by crowning fires" the evacuation zone changed.

Crews were pulling out of the area because crowning fire made it too dangerous.

And they were clearing out as heavy air tankers flew inbound with loads of slurry they hoped would tame the raging flames.

The action seemed to be focused on the northern edge of Black Forest Road and Herring Road where scanner conversations indicated several homes engulfed in flames.

As a result of the new activity, mandatory evacuation areas have changed. The northern boundry now is extended to Walker Road and the western boundary is Highway 83.

1:10 p.m.: Just 24 hours ago, Jaenette Coyne looked out the window of her home on Peregrine Way in Black Forest.

What she saw sent her into a panic.

Smoke was billowing from the lot next door.

Coyne, 37, said she immediately called 9-1-1 and called her husband, Kristian, who raced home to their five-acre property.

The next time she looked out the window, she saw fire.

Within minutes, they packed their baby albums, computers and evacuated. She took a photo of their burning home with her cell phone.

It's an image they'd see over and over Tuesday night as they watched television news reports of the Black Forest fire.

"I've seen it at least 30 times," Jaenette Coyne said. "It was really hard."

But she looked at the bright side. Unlike all the people wondering if their house survived, she doesn't have to worry. The place they bought in 2009 is gone.

"At least we have closure," Kristian said.

1 p.m.: Good news at the time . . . Reports at 9 a.m. indicated the Black Forest Community Center, a near century-old log building and the focus of community activities like potluck dinners and festivals, remained standing, said Eddie Bracken.

The building is home to the Black Forest Community Club. A log school nearby is another beloved Black Forest landmark and focus of concern of residents.

"The club and the old log school didn't get burned," Bracken said at noon. He is president of the club.

Of course, the fire has been burning intensely Wednesday morning and there are no new reports on the status of the historic buildings.

12:49 p.m.: Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado is offering emergency vouchers good for clothing at retail centers to victims of the Black Forest fire.

Vouchers will be distributed 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday through Saturday, at the Red Cross Shelter at New Life Church.

Vouchers also will be available at El Paso County's Disaster Recovery Center at its Citizens Service Center, expected to be in operation in 48 hours.

The vouchers can be redeemed at Discover Goodwill Retail Centers at 2007 S. Circle Drive, near Powers Boulevard at 2655 Waynoka Drive and near North Academy Boulevard at 1070 Kelly Johnson Boulevard.

More information is available at

12:47 p.m.: The stables and pasture at the Flying W Ranch are full and no longer accepting large animals. Folks looking to relocate horses and farm animals can still go to the Elbert County Fairgrounds, which remains open.

12:45 p.m.: El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa enacted fire restrictions for the county based on dangerous conditions.

The order calls for Stage 1 restrictions which ban open burning and outdoor fires unless they are in permanent fire grates in developed campgrounds and picnic grounds.

The order also bans fireworks in the county. And it restricts smoking outdoors to an area clear of all flammable materials.

The order does not affect wood-burning stoves or charcoal grills at homes in areas cleared of flammable materials.

The restrictions are effective immediately.

12:35 p.m.: Caller from Mountain Shadows reports a spectacular view of the Black Forest fire from Flying W Ranch Road, standing in the ashes of the Waldo Canyon fire.

He reports two huge plumes of smoke over Black Forest.

And emergency scanner traffic tells a story of two different fires.

One crew said "everything on the south side has died down." He then offered to move north and join the battle.

But things remain intense on the north.

Fire passing Black Forest Reserve subdivision was reported by a crewmember.

Another firefighter reports active crowning.

Activity seems to center on Pine Cone Ranch and Coachman Drive where the fire is especially active. The subdivision is north on Vollmer Road not far from Hodgen Road.

12:05 p.m.: Three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the Colorado Army National Guard have dropped 30,000 gallons of water on the Black Forest fire in less than 24 hours since it erupted.

Each Black Hawk is equipped with buckets capable of dumping 500 gallons with each delivery.

The guard copters and crews launched from the Army Aviation Support Facility on Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora and are members of the 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Avaiation.

In addition 13 members of the 1157th Firefighting Company of engineers with their trucks and tenders are fighting the fire on the ground.

And 40 members of Colorado's National Guard Reaction Force are on duty at security checkpoints in evacuated Black Forest neighborhoods.

11:50 a.m. Protect yourself from the smoke, urges the El Paso County Public Health Department.

If you are concerned about air quality, you can monitor it at

And Jill Law, health director, advises folks to reduce outdoor exercise as the region fills with smoke from the Black Forest fire.

She said smoke levels are unhealthy when they reduce visibility to less than five miles.

Another good clue to limit outdoor activity is when you can smell smoke.

11:45 a.m.: Scanner traffic indicates an intense pocket of fire is burning in the Pine Cone Ranch area near Vollmer Road and Hodgen Road.

Crews were ordered to pull out of the area after confronting a "pretty good column" near the east end of Coachman Drive.

They were ordered to find a safe spot to watch until the fire settles down or is hit with an aerial assault. 

11:37 a.m.: The Sky Sox are offering a rain check to anyone with tickets to Wednesday's game.

Recognizing folks might not feel comfortable sitting in the smoky conditions caused by the Black Forest fire and the Royal Gorge fire, the Sox offered to let folks stay home and use the ticket at a later date.

Also, anyone who donates nonperishable food will receive a free upper reserved seat ticket for a 2013 Sky Sox game, other than July 4.

11:25 a.m.: The Salvation Army of Colorado Springs and El Paso County is in "dire need" of sports drinks to hand out to evacuees and first responders, said Mary Whatcott, army spokeswoman.

The agency asks for no donations other than sports drinks, she said. They can be dropped off at the Salvation Army offices at 908 Yuma St.

Poor Richard's Restaurant, 324 N. Tejon St., is offering free pizza and soda to evacuees and firefighters affected by the Black Forest fire.

Just talk to the restaurant employee at the counter to access your free meal.

11:18 a.m.  Citing the region's extreme danger from wildland fire, Colorado Springs is enacting fire restrictions effective at noon.

Interim Fire Chief Tommy Smith said they will stay in effect until "weather and fuel conditions improve."

Officials cited the area's continued hot and dry conditions, which have made trees and brush vulnerable to ignition.

The restrictions prohibit open burning, bonfires, campfires or other recreational fires. Smoking outdoors is allowed as long as butts are disposed of property in a fireproof container.

Anyone caught causing a fire due to careless burning could face fourth degree arson charges.

11:15 a.m. On the east edge of Shoup Road, in the Conifer Grove Estates, crews are calling for animal control officials to rescue a pen full of dogs and other animals along Myrick Road.

11 a.m. The Black Forest has a rich history and much of it was preserved in a DVD created in 2010.

Like much of the Pikes Peak region, it traces its history to Gen. William Jackson Palmer, the entrepreneur who came here after the Civil War, built Colorado Springs, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad and just about everything else around.

To build his railroad and town, Palmer needed lumber so in 1870 he bought 43,000 acres in the forst and started chopping down trees.

Soon there were 16 sawmills turning pines into railroad ties and construction materials.

And before they were finished, the original Black Forest was wiped out. When the loggers left, only pioneer families remained and started building their community. Some of their names now echo as names of roads where homes are burning.

For example, Oliver Shoup was a sawmill executive who ended up governor of Colorado. A main east-west road is named in his honor and is in the heart of the fire zone.

First responders may be encountering another Black Forest oddity -- black tufted-ear Abert squirrels. They mated with Russian fox that had been raised in the forest and released when the fur industry collapsed.

Another Black Forest legend was Edith Wolford, a beloved teacher whose name adorns a school in the fire zone.

10:50 a.m. The Black Forest fire appears to be making a push north along the ground. Scanner traffic indicates it is approaching the Black Forest Reserve near Hodgen Road and Meridian Road where about 60 structures are threatened.

Crews can be heard asking the status of aerial drops.

From the scanner: Fire is about 600 meters from the reserve. It's on the ground.

Another crew is doubling back on the School in the Woods on Vollmer Road near Burgess Road. Hot spots have erupted, scanner traffic indicates, and an assault was underway.

Crews were also waiting on bulldozers as they launched structure protection in Pinehurst Wood subdivision on Whispering Pine Trail off Vollmer Road.

10:46 a.m.
At 3 p.m., Tuesday, Skyler Evans ended his father Brian's nap in the family home at 8050 Swan Road, near Vollmer Road in unincorporated Black Forest.

"Dad, you need to come look at this smoke," Skyler said.

Brian saw the tower of smoke and quickly began loading the family's two cars with photos and family mementos. He made a special excursion to find his great-grandfather's hammers.

By 5:30 p.m., Brian and his wife, Hope, their daughter Cheyenne and Skyler all drove out of the driveway just as a mandatory evacuation order was announced.

On Tuesday night, the family sat and watched the fire at a high point where Black Forest Road meets Woodmen Road. The saw a fireman friend who promised to call if he heard any information about the Evans' family home.

At 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, the phone rang. It was the firefighter.

Their house on Swan Road was gone. It had been consumed by the fire.

Despite the loss, Brian sounded surprisingly fresh and optimistic as he talked Wednesday.

Despite his fear, Brian said he slept soundly Tuesday night at the home of a friend in Falcon. Turns out, he had more than two dozen offers of shelter from folks at the Eastside Church of Christ, where he worships.

"You don't know how many people care about you until something stupid like this happens," Brian said.

And he was not mourning the loss of his possessions.

"It's just stuff," he said. "The wife and the kids are out. The dogs are out. After that, the rest is just . . . stuff."

 10:34 a.m.: The Salvation Army of Colorado Springs and El Paso County is seeking volunteers to help man mobile canteen centers. Those interested in volunteering can call 636-3891.

10:30 a.m.: Based on scanner traffic, it seems crews are fighting intense fire at Meridian Road near Ayer Road.

Crews are reporting a large column near the Sylvan Meadows subdivision, where they have been battling all morning.

Another report described trying to protect the Black Forest Reserve and 60-some structures in it.

10:22 a.m.: Due to the scope and unpredictable growth of the Black Forest fire, Falcon School District 49 is closed and suspending all district activities until further notice.

Chief Education Officer Peter Hilts said tonights Board of Education meeting has been postponed to June 20. And the district may open school buildings if needed.

For anyone needing to reach the district, they are asked to contact Dave Watson, emergency coordinator, at

10:17 a.m.: The State Emergency Operations Center has been activated to support the wildfires across Colorado. The center is staffed at a Level III with command and general staff positions as well as the Emergency Support Functions from public health, public safety and security, recover and Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.

10:15 a.m. The firefight against the Black Forest fire remains intense in spots, according to scanner traffic:

We have significant flames on the west side of Meridian Road just over the hill from Ayer Road. It's starting to crown.

10:13 a.m.: The Norris-Penrose Event Center reports it is full and no longer admitting animals displaced by the Black Forest fire or the Royal Gorge fire.

Large animals can be taken to the Elbert County Fairgrounds at 95 Ute Ave. in Kiowa. Also, animals can be taken to the El Paso County Fairgrounds at 366 10th St. in Calhan, according to Dave Rose, county spokesman.

Another option is the Flying W Ranch, which is accepting horses and other farm animals at 2310 Wolfe Ranch Road in Colroado Springs.

Aaron Winter said the ranch has 25 stalls and open pasture available. The ranch could use donations of hay for the evacuated animals.

For those in need of animal rescue, the Human Society of the Pikes Peak Region is taking calls at 719-473-1741, ext. 1.

9:59 a.m. Edith Wolford Elementary School, 13710 Black Forest Road, and School in the Woods, 12002 Vollmer Road, are still standing.

Officials at Academy School District 20 were able to get into the area early this morning. There was some damage on the grounds, but the schools are intact.

D-20 Superintendent Mark Hatchell and Brian Grady, security chief, viewed Edith Wolford from its parking lot.

"The school is standing and there is some fire damage on the grounds outside the school," Hatchell said. "The building appears to be fine."

Same for School in the Woods.

"We are still closely monitoring the situation there," Hatchell said.

Edith Wolford has 310 students and 60 staff members and is one of the district's original schools. School fo the Woods has 78 students ans six staff members.

The news isn't as good for many students and staff who are evacuated and lost their homes.

Hatchell said the district is putting together a plan to help them. Updates will be posted on the district's 20 Alerts and website.

9:55 a.m. The Falcon Peak school-based health center, located at Falcon Elementary School, will remain open. The health center is available to offer free sevice, especially those who may be dealing with respiratory issues related to the fire.

9:45 a.m.

The Peak Vista Community Health Center located at Falcon Elementary School, 12050 Falcon Highway, Peyton, 344-6247, is offering free help to those with respiratory issues. Those of all ages will be seen, even those with no connection to the district. Insurance is not required. 

9 a.m.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says at least 80 homes have burned in the Black Forest fire, which continues to rage Wednesday after an active night.

"That fire is far from under control," Maketa said. "I would not be surprised if we crossed over 80 homes and were closer to 100."

As to reports of injuries or deaths, Maketa said he had no definitive information but he fears the worst.

"We had people refusing to leave," Maketa said. "We had people walking out at 2 in the morning. We had people who refused to evacuate. My worst fear is people took a chance and lost their life."

There are no injuries to first responders fighting the Black Forest fire.

Maketa described the scene overnight as surreal.

"It looked like a huge convention of campfires," he said. "Then you d see a tree pop into fire."

It covers 7,500-8,000 acres, affects 2,625 people and 7,358 homes are evacuated. There are 155 firefighters and 4 helicopters battling the blaze.

He said tanker flights to drop fire retardant are expected to begin around 11 a.m.

He said mandatory evacuation remains in effect for Black Forest fire.

"It's still a very hot and active fire area. Even this morning you could hear explosions from propane tanks."

He said the fire was active during the night: "We still had a lot of fire taking place."

"It was a very, very hot fire even at 5 a.m. this morning."

Maketa said six helicopters and one plane in the battle.

The fire has covered 47 square miles and left a lot of unspent fuel. That worries experts because winds could shift the fire west.

They started assessing home destruction at 4 a.m. But while some are considered safe now, a shift of wind could put them back in jeopardy.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has promised to send strike teams to the Black Forest fire.

The fire ran more than eight miles Tuesday. It remains at 0 percent contained, but he said crews held the line along the south and southeast sides.

Trucks are having to reload water from tankers due to unreliable hydrants.

Crews dug defensive positions in anticipation of fire activity Wednesday.

There is no word on the cause of the fire.

Maketa said he'll provide another update at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Containment: 0 percent
Deaths/injuries: None reported
Acres burned: 7,500-8,000
Homes burned: 80-100 estimated
People evacuated: 7358 people
Homes evacuated: 2,625
Evacuation area: 47 square miles.
Firefighters on scene: 155

Air support: 6 Helicopters and 1 plane

 8:54 a.m.: The Colorado Army National Guard and Fort Carson are helping fight the Black Forest fire.

Four helicopters -- a UH-60 Black Hawk from the guard and three from Fort Carson are on the scene. In addition, a UH-72 Lakota helicopter is providing aerial reconnaissance and is on standby for search and rescue.

Each Black Hawk has a bucket capable of delivering 500 gallons per drop. The guard copters and crews launched from the Army Aviation Support Facility on Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora and are members of the 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Avaiation.

The helicopters and crews from Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo., are members of the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade and launched from the fort's Butts Army Airfield.

8:52 a.m. Scanner traffic: Northwest corner of Holmes Road and Shoup Road. Fire spotted approaching the back of the house. 

8:45 a.m.: Penrose Hospital spokesman Chris Valentine reports no patients related to the Black Forest fire have been admitted.

"Waldo was the same way," Valentine said. "We cancelled surgeries then to prepare for the influx and no one came. I guess people in Colorado Springs have learned how to be safe and evacuate."

Erin Emory, spokeswoman for Memorial Hospital, said no one has been admitted to the hospital for fire burns, as far as she knows. But some have been admitted for respiratory issues.

"Most of them are having distress because they have some other underlying illness, ashma or other respiratory issues.

The El Paso County Coroner's office said they have not heard of deaths associated with the fire.

We are expecting to get new information at a 9 a.m. briefing by El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa and other county officials.

8:44 a.m.: Scanner traffic: Structure fire reported at Shoup Road and Tia Lane.

Meanwhile, the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region is opening its doors to Black Forest fire evacuees, first responders, and others with no airconditioning, unable to open their windows and needing relief.

Find details at

8:35 a.m.: Fire crew declines to leave shift until it can be relieved as it battles a blaze according to scanner traffic:

I'd rather not leave this until a replacement crew is available. We have two humongous piles of wood that are threatening an outstructure.

8:31 a.m.:  The El Paso County Fairgrounds is now accepting RVs and Campers. Electric and showers are available.

8:27 a.m.: Three helicopters are picking up water from ponds near Abert Way and Highway 83 at 8 am. They appear to be refilling their buckets every 5 minutes

8:07 a.m.: Authorities report a white minivan blew through a checkpoint and is going door to door on Burgess Road.

8:05 a.m.: Aerial images from our partners KOAA TV 5 show large swatchs of blackened trees as well as utter destruction of homes and businesses throughout Black Forest.

Also, plumes of smoke from active fires also visible.

8:02 a.m. El Paso County Sheriff's Department reports natural gas and electricity outages in the evacuation zones. Utility workers are on the scene assessing the situation.

7:58 a.m.: Scanner traffic: If you have a tender truck we could use it. Negative on tender truck.

Also, authorities are working a head-on wreck at Highway 83 and Shoup Road. Unknown injuries.

7:48 a.m.: Mayor Steve Bach has cancelled his Town Hall Meeting scheduled tonight due to the Black Forest fire. Had been scheduled for Fire Station 18 in Mountain Shadows/Peregrine area.

7:47 a.m.: Scanner traffic: We're working on some hot spots on Peregrine Way loop. We have no communication with the helicopters. They are dropping right on top of us. Any way we can get ahold of them, maybe have them clear the area before they drop?

7:40 a.m. Alex Avery was the only person milling about a makeshift RV lot at the Walmart on Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard.

It was just after 6:30 a.m. when the 25-year-old Avery was walking the family's dog, Harley. The faimly spent the night in their RV in the parking lot after being evacuated from their Black Forest home in the 6100 block of Burgess Road off Dellwood Drive.

Understandably, he was worried about home.

"We haven't heard anything about them," Avery said.

7:39 a.m.: Fire is active in the Green Meadow subdivision at Swan Road and Herring Road based on scanner traffic: Report of a barn going up in flames on Meadow Glen Lane.

7:30 a.m.: El Paso County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Kramer reports no changes at this time to the evacuation zone or pre-evacuation areas. He warns that could change as experts assess the fire, it's movement and weather forecasts.

He said the acreage burned estimate remains at 8,000 acres, displacing 6,500 people.

Firefighters and law enforcement are going home-to-home, road after road, assessing damage and destruction.

Kramer said they will release that information as it becomes available.

"We don't want to wait until the entire area has been assessed. As we go through 10 - 15 roads, we will make the information public."

7:20 a.m.: Fire is in Black Squirrel Creek Park subdivision according to scanner traffic: Wind-driven spot fires at Burgess Road and Windmill Road. We’ll be addressing those. Those aren't heavy fires.

7:17 a.m. Residents can call 719-444-8300 for information on the Black Forest fire. The phone line is staffed with people prepared to try to answer questions.

7:14 a.m.: Among the RVers is Larry Bowin, 64, who said his family of 10 is living in the parking lot at Walmart.

They evacuated at 3 p.m., Tuesday, from their Black Forest home. They have two RVs in the Walrmart parking lot.

Bowin said he recently tried to sell one of the family's RVs. Now he feels lucky he didn't.

"The Lord must have been looking after us," Bowin said.

7:11 a.m.: There are 14 recreational vehicles parked at Walmart on Woodmen Road near Powers Boulelvard. Many are evacuees from the Black Forest fire and they are wondering if their homes are still standing.

7:02 a.m.: El Paso County Sheriff Sgt. Joe Roybal reports no changes to the evacuation zone or pre-evacuation zone at this time.

7 a.m.: El Paso County Sheriff Sgt. Joe Roybal reports he cannot offer an accurate estimate of burned homes. Assessments were impossible due to hot spots and darkness.

Still no injuries or deaths to report, Roybal said. No missing persons reports, either.

He describes the Black Forest fire as very different from Waldo Canyon because this blaze has several hot spots, jumping from home to home.

Waldo Canyon, Roybal said, was like a wall of fire and less complicated to contain.

6:55 a.m.: Scanner traffic: We’re working on a helicopter drop right now. Using military copters.

Got three Denver trucks coming but they are not here yet.

Dead antelope on side of road.

6:53 a.m.:As we await a news briefing at 9 a.m., here are the last numbers we have on the Black Forest fire:

Containment: 0 percent
Deaths/injuries: None reported
Acres burned: 8,000
Structures burned: 100 estimated
People evacuated: 6,500 people
Homes evacuated: 1,259
Evacuation area: 55 square miles

Firefighters on scene: 150
Those numbers are expected to change, perhaps dramatically, at the 9 a.m. breifing.

6:49 a.m.: According to scanner traffic, crews have made a shift change. Trucks are refueling and water trucks are reloading as firefighters prepare to resume the battle.

6:48 a.m.: Scanner traffic: Any word on the bucket? We've got trees running to the top.

645 a.m.: In the Royal Gorge region, winds are blowing from the west and northwest, fairly light at 5 mph. Meteorologist Cioffi of the National Weather Service said winds are expected to pick up there, reaching 10 mph.

Canon City's temperature is cooler at 62 degrees Wednesday morning with a forecast high of 94 degrees, according to the weather service.

6:42 a.m.: Rich Harvey, who became well-known in the region during the Waldo Canyon fire, is on his way with his Great Basin Incident Management Team, sources tell The Gazette.

The team is expected to arrive at 9 a.m. and begin the transition and assume command of the Black Forest Fire.

6:41 a.m.: Closures: Woodmen Valley Chapel: Vacation Bible School at Woodmen Heights has been canceled today.
All activities cancelled at Falcon High School, Falcon Middle School, Meridian Ranch Elementary.

6:38 a.m.: National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Humidity in El Paso County is  9 percent and not expected to increase. There is no chance of showers or precipitation Wednesday.

Forecast winds could  push Black Forest fire and smoke to the north and northwest.
Wind speeds in El Paso County reported at 8 to 10 mph. Winds are expect to pick up to 10 to 20 mph, gusts up to 30 mph from the southeast.

6:22 a.m.: Scanner traffic: Tell the deputy the cruiser left at Swan Road is intact. Windows down but it looks fine.

6:19 a.m.: National Weather Service is predicting wind speeds will pick up flag warning for El Paso County from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Temperatures at Colorado Springs at 63 degrees, forecating for a high of 92 degrees this afternoon, said NWS meteorologist Patrick Cioffi.

6:11 a.m.:Meridian Ranch YMCA is closed. Registered day campers can go to the Briargate YMCA.

6:09 a.m.: Scanner traffic: Crews en route to repair cellphone tower. Eastbound on Hodgen Road.

6:06 a.m.: Prepping is underway at Peterson Air Force Base of the C-130 tankers that will bomb fire retardant on the blaze.

Sgt. Dan Butterfield of the 302nd Airlift Wing said crews began prepping the planes at 6 a.m. and it would take about two hours to get them off the ground.

5:59 a.m. The firefight seems to have reached Sylvan Meadows subdivision at Goodson Road and Ayer Road, nroth of Falcon. Crews are staging there. That means the fire is close to jumping ZIP codes. Sylvan Meadows sits near the edge of 80908 ZIP where it borders 80108 and 80831.

Scanner traffic: We need gas to Sylvan Estates cut off.

5:47 a.m.: Scanner traffic:

Don't have any animal control at this time of day

Got two canines at house.

Need to grab them.

One's pretty big.

No guarantees then.

5:25 a.m.: Scanner traffic:

Structure has got pretty good fire.

Stage from Yoemans and Goodson.

Scratch tender request. I found a water source up here.

Keep the media south of Burgess Road.

5:10 a.m. As the sun is about to rise, smoke lingers over Black Forest and trails to the  south, leaving Powers Boulevard in a haze.

It's a calm morning with no huge smoke plume as dominated the sky Tuesday. There is color in the cloud, a pinkish-orange.

There's a slight breeze but nothing like the winds of Tuesday.


4:50 a.m. As sunrise approaches, firefighters are still dealing with burning homes. Every few minutes on the 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 humidity, temperatures in the 80s and gusty winds could drive the Black Forest fire.

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

Black Forest Fire Evacuation Map
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