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SUNDAY UPDATES: More evacuees return home; Thursday containment predicted

The Gazette - Updated: June 16, 2013 at 10:32 pm 0

SUNDAY UPDATES FROM THE BLACK FOREST FIRE


10:30 p.m.
County officials said about 4,600 people remained under evacuation Sunday night. About 15,700 remain in pre-evacuation zones, meaning they should be prepared to flee.

Federal officials estimate that the fire will be fully contained on Thursday.

 

 

9 p.m. Homeowners returning to newly opened neighborhoods Sunday night may discover that electricity to their homes was off for extended periods of time.  El Paso County officials remind them to dispose of all perishable food from refrigerators and freezers.

Dumpsters will be set up by 10 a.m. Monday at:

-- North Black Forest Fire Station on the turnout at Ridge Run Road and southeast corner of Burgess Road;

-- El Paso County slash and mulch site on Herring Road.

 

8:30 p.m. More homeowners are being allowed to return to their houses tonight. Four areas were downgraded to pre-evacuation status, meaning homeowners can get into the area with identification.

They are:

-- Area between Highland Estates Drive west to Black Forest Road, from Walker Road on the north to Hodgen Road on the south.

-- A large area west of Vollmer Road from Hodgen Road south to just south of Kirk Drive, then a line west along Wildridge Road, just south of Basin Drive across Black Forest Road and continuing to just south of Country Estates Lane and turning northwest to connect with current boundary.

-- A small area just east of Highway 83, including Abert Way and Chickaree Lane.

-- Area between Shoup Road south to Burgess Road, from Howells Road east to Vollmer Road. Shoup Road remains closed because of emergency vehicles in the area. Residents of Shoup Road, Casey Lane, Glenridge Lane and Clear Lane will not be allowed access to their homes off of Shoup.

8 p.m. About 100 people stood near Pine Creek High School Sunday evening to cheer the firefighters heading out to fight the blaze. Among them was the Wester family, which lost its home of 21 years in the fire.

In the final home assessment update of the day, the Sheriff's Office says the count remains at 483 houses destroyed, 17 damaged.

4:45 p.m.  The smoke was like fog coming through the trees as Chris Jackson sped out of Black Forest toward safety with two of her neighbor's children in her car.

Jackson lives near the intersection of Swan and Herring and while the map released by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office says her house is still standing, she isn’t sure.

She and her husband have been staying in their RV since the frightful evacuation Tuesday afternoon when they got a reverse 911 call telling them to get out.

“We were running around like crazy,” Jackson said. “I had no concept of how much time we had, but I thought their may be time to help someone else.”

She drove to her neighbor’s house who was rounding up animals for evacuation and offered to take her neighbor’s sons out with her.

“You’ve got your stuff, after that you’ve got to let it go,” she said.

Jackson and her husband couldn’t get into their house Sunday but from the checkpoint on Black Forest Road they could see the burn scar of where the fire went through the forest.

Getting tears in her eyes Jackson said she’s looking forward to the Black Forest parade and festival in August when the first responders go through and the standing ovation they will receive for all their hard work.

“I think we’ll rebuild,” Jackson said.

4:20 p.m. El Paso County Sheriff's office has revised the home assessment numbers. 483 total loss, 17 partial loss, 3615 unaffected.

4:00 p.m. Advisory from El Paso County Public Health.

  • Wash fruits and vegetables from gardens and trees thoroughly before eating.
  • Don't let children play in debris or areas with ash.
  • Wash toys before allowing kids to play with them.

3:20 p.m. Pikes Peak Humane Society will close the animal shelter at Palmer Ridge High School on Monday at noon per El Paso County Sheriff.

3:00 p.m. Gazette reporter Andrea Sinclair tweets: Fire crews are at one- acre grass fire off Teller CR 12 near Florissant. No buildings threatened.

2:40 p.m.Colorado Springs Fire Department tweets that it has found no fire problems in the area of Old Stage Road. Air resources did not seeing anything.

2:34 p.m. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office has increased the number of homes destroyed in the fire to 485. Seventeen ohters are considered a partial loss; 3,607 unaffected.

2:24 p.m. Black Forest FD just arrived at 6125 Connaught Dr., on a structure fire called in by another Black Forest firefighter.

2:20 p.m. Due to bad weather, the Red Cross distribution scheduled for Hodgen/Highway 83 Sunday has been cancelled. Start time and location will be announced.

 

1:47 p.m. We're monitoring scanner traffic regarding smoke investigations off Old Stage Road, in the Cascade area and in the Mount Herman area. No confirmation on whether lightning has actually sparked any fires in those areas. We'll have update as soon as possible.

 

1:44 p.m. Severe thunderstorms over Waldo Canyon burn scar, but less than a tenth of an inch of rainfall expected. Gusts up to 20 mph expected.

1:40 p.m. @EPCSheriff tweets that the next media briefing is scheduled for noon Monday.

1:12 p.m. There's some thunder, lightning in the burn area. Weather service says less than a tenth of an inch of rain is expected in the Colorado Springs area.

1:11 p.m. At Black Forest Road and Burgess, evacuees are watching lightning and distant rain headed toward the burn area.

1:07 p.m. Gazette reporter Scott Rappold tweets: Sky looks ugly over the #BlackForestFire no rain yet but fingers are crossed pic.twitter.com/yuhXpv28EA

12:58 p.m. It's raining in downtown Colorado Springs.

Noon. Containment in the Black Forest fire increased to 65 percent and no more land or structures were lost overnight, officials said at a press conference said.

- IDs of the two people who died in the fire were not released, although El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said officials hope to have identities in the next 24 hours. "Don't forget, this isn't CSI."

- Officials have a good idea of the victims' indentities, but dental records are needed.

- Maketa said the two people killed in the fire "saw it coming and they talked about it coming ... they were trying to save property."

- Maketa gave a crime update from the burn area: four burglaries, one obstruction and one impersonation.

- Maketa said "we're zeroing in on the point of origin." Experts have been called for assistance in that investigation.

- Maketa is not anticipating major evacuation releases Sunday: "I'm not real anxious to get people in there yet. This is a crime scene until proven otherwise."

- Officials are working to open areas on the southwest corner of the evacuation zone.

- On possible upcoming changes in the evacuation zones: "I don't want people to get this false sense of security because they look up there and don't see a plume of smoke."

- County Commissioner Darryl Glenn said anyone wanting to volunteer or in need of assistance can email bffvolunteer@elpasoco.com.

- Glenn addressed heightened tensions from the Black Forest fire community meeting Saturday. He emphasized there will be more meetings. "You're dealing with raw emotions. They're scared. They're frustrated."

- County Commissioner Dennis Hisey said small-business development has funds available at the disaster-assistance center for impacted owners.

- Hisey: Culverts and bridges are being inspected for safety. Ten teams of building inspectors are looking at standing structures to make sure homeowners will be safe on re-entry.

- Rich Harvey, the fire incident commander, said firefighters made progress holding the south perimeter overnight and perimeters are starting to be secured.

- Lt. Col Mitch Utterback with the Colorado National Guard said helicopters dropped 1,297 buckets of water over the fire. That's more than 800,000 gallons of water.

 

   

11:15 a.m.  A small corner of the mandatory evacuation zone moved to pre-evacuation status this morning. Homes along Meridian Road from Walker Road south to McCune Road are now in preevacuation status. According to the sheriff's office, homes on the .2 of a mile of Walker Road west of Meridian Road are also now moved to pre-evacuation status.

10:54 a.m. A taxi-cab just crashed through check-point 13 at Meridian Road and Ayer Road with minor damage to signs and cab. Deputies have stopped the driver.

10:30 a.m. The number of acres burned in the Black Forest fire was reduced slightly Sunday morning to 14,198 acres from a previously estimated 15,500 acres. Other statistics updated this morning by El Paso County:

Number of Personnel: 1,175

Engines: 103

Structures lost: 480

Cost to date: $5.2 million

More information: http://inciweb.org/incident/article/3424/18633/ 

10:15 a.m. Here are the most recent statistics from the three other fires burning across the state:

Royal Gorge

Acres: 3,218

Containment: 85 percent

News: Crews are beginning mopping up following the fire and will continue to draw down and move to other fires.

Personnel: 333

Big Meadows

Acres: 603

Containment: 60 percent

Personnel: 206

News: Closures were lifted for five of the seven previously closed trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, call the visitor center before going into the area 970-586-1206.

Ward Gulch

Acres: 682

Containment: 15 percent

Personnel: 200

News: The fire has grown little since Friday and a public meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. today at the Colorado River Fire Rescue Station, 1850 Railroad Avenue in Rifle.

10:54 a.m. A taxi-cab just crashed through check-point 13 at Meridian Road and Ayer Road with minor damage to signs and cab. Deputies have the driver stopped.

10 a.m. A new map showing the perimiter and containment of the Black Forest fire was released by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. A noon press conference is scheduled to update the firefighters progress overnight. View the map here: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/map/3424/0/

9:15 a.m. Firefighters battling the Black Forest blaze on Fathers Day Sunday, will have the help of slightly cooler temperatures, lower winds and an unlikely chance of rain.

That has been the trend for the past couple of days, allowing firefighters to make progress on the Black Forest fire that raged out of control for several days under hot, dry and windy conditions.

“With the thunderstorms this afternoon we don’t have a large chance, but we do have a 30 percent chance of rain,” said Jennifer Stark, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Pueblo. “Anytime we have thunderstorms develop they can be a double edged sword because they can bring lightening and high winds. It just depends if they develop right over the fire and bring cooling rains or if they send an outflow boundary or some gusty winds.”

The high this afternoon is expected to be 79 degrees and it will cool down to 52 degrees overnight. Winds will stay between 5 mph and 10 mph.

8 a.m. Highway 83 is now open both directions from Powers Boulevard - Highway 105/Walker Road in both directions, according to CDOT.

7 a.m. El Paso County Sheriff's Office adjusted list of homes considered a late Saturday night to 482, down from 483. There are 17 listed as partially damaged on the latest home assessment list. Click below to view the list.

http://bit.ly/14wdoOR

  

SATURDAY

11:30 p.m. We have this tweet from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office: "Residents of last home in "red" who chose not to evac have been located and are SAFE. None left to account for at this  time."

7:38 p.m. Here is The Gazette's updated map of mandatory evacuation and pre-evacuation zones - with boundary revisions announced at 6:15 p.m. media briefing.

http://bit.ly/11GOKKt

 

7:35 p.m. Click on this link - http://bit.ly/11Qtgeb - to see a video of Colorado National Guardsmen working feverishly to save a house after a garage just feet away becomes totally engulfed in flames.

6:55 p.m. Sheriff's office spokesman Lt. Jeff Kramer said the updated number of totally destroyed homes in the Black Forest fire is now at 483.

There are 17 listed as partially damaged on the latest home assessment list. Click below to view the list.

http://bit.ly/14wdoOR

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