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Vehicles evacuate in front of a large grass fire last week in Superior.

Fire ordinance needed

It was heartbreaking to watch what the residents in Louisville and Superior had to deal with Thursday. Unfortunately, these families experienced and are trying to rationalize what the Mountain Shadows and Black Forest Communities experienced in June 2012 with the Waldo Canyon fire, and less than a year later, the Black Forest fire.

While originally thinking that it was a miracle that no lives were lost, we now know that sadly at least two people are still missing. The evacuation was pure chaos, as many have been quoted stating that they only traveled ¼ or ½ mile in an hour. Watching the huge amount of video of the almost nonexistent visibility is becoming too common.

What have we learned? Perhaps most importantly though, is what have our local city government learned? From my perspective, nothing at all (a few City Council members do get it). A pretty harsh statement, until you start looking at the facts:

1. Louisville and Superior are in a fairly open area, and have many points of egress, or ways out of their neighborhoods. The whole west side of Colorado Springs from Peregrine to the Broadmoor is boxed in by the topology and the national forest to the west. The only exit is eastward until you get to I-25.

2. The evacuation numbers were about the same for the Waldo Canyon fire and in the Marshall fire. About 34,000 people had to leave at a moment’s notice. Just think about this.

What if the people in the Louisville and Superior area only had one way to evacuate? The number of lives lost could have increased exponentially.

3. On Nov. 22, the local Westside Watch community organization presented to the Colorado Springs City Council a draft Ordinance establishing the need for a clearance evacuation times for Colorado Springs. This was after two hours of nationally renowned evacuation experts explaining how easy it is to model evacuations and develop clearance evacuation times.

4. Let’s compare what happened in Colorado Springs on Dec. 15? We had 100 mph winds reported at the Air Force Academy and 90 plus mph winds at the COS airport, the same level of winds which fanned the flames in Louisville and Superior.

5. Wildland fires don’t happen in winter! What about the Broadmoor/Carson fire in January 1950? What about the many grass fires in just the past 18 months? Luckily, they did minimal damage. Now we can add the Marshall fire.

6. We don’t know how the Marshall fire started, as it is still being investigated. Whether it is downed power lines, arson, or an illegal campfire as happened on Blodgett Peak two weeks ago.

7. We know how fast the fires moved in Waldo Canyon. Fire officials thought they had up to five hours before the fire moved into the Mountain Shadows Community. It was 45 minutes. Look how fast the Marshall fire moved in Louisville and Superior. It was about the same time frame based on The Gazette timeline article.

The mayor and his planning department are pushing hard to infill the vacant lots and areas on the west side of town. Some of these areas are zoned for homes. However, most are not. This is with complete disregard to the hazards and the safety of the local neighborhoods. Mountain Shadows and other northwest neighborhoods experienced absolute chaos in evacuating on June 26, 2012. With the population exploding in the area, if a similar fire to Waldo Canon or the Marshall fire occurred on the west side of Colorado Springs with the increasing development, we might very well experience what happened in Paradise.

Colorado Springs has the opportunity to lead the nation in developing smart policies for wildland urban interface safety and can enact ordinances that lead to the safe and responsible development in these areas.

Will the mayor and City Council act on this, or will they continue to be bought out by developers?

Bill Wysong

Colorado Springs

Searching for objective facts

I have written several times to the opinion page of the Colorado Springs Gazette, and I believe it is appropriately subtitled “Your Viewpoint”. The times I’ve written were almost always initiated by an opinion or a viewpoint that I had on some subject that I felt passionate about. Sometimes I would include factual references to support my opinion, which maybe gave the comments more credibility (but of course, that’s just my opinion!)

My point being, opinions are as good a place as any to start a conversation; however, objective facts can shed “credible light” to our opinions, and we should all search for those objective facts.

Truth is based upon fact; hopefully we don’t apply “truth” to the old saying of “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

Larry Syslo

Colorado Springs

Sunday’s Perspective section

Thank you for publishing the well-written articles by Glenn Loury, Jon Caldara, Joe Barrera and Larry Elder in Sunday’s Perspective section of the Gazette.

Fred Seiter

Colorado Springs

No hometown support for AFA

A stone’s throw from downtown, the best college football team in Colorado plays its home games in front of almost no one. At least no one from Colorado Springs.

A military academy, one of the finest in the world, plays Division 1 football better than anyone else in this state, but hometown fans stay home, week after week after week, leaving these young men, the future leaders of the greatest air force ever assembled, to celebrate in virtual anonymity, particularly those whose families live hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Shame on you, Colorado Springs. And shame on the media, newspapers, and businesses whose job it is to support this academy and the cadets who represent Colorado Springs on the field, in the gym, the court, the ice and the pitch — without so much as a hometown cheer.

Gary Crandell

Denver

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