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Colorado wildfire forces continuing evacuation, thousands flee

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Antelope fire 1

 

 

Wildfire fighting has the feel of a military operation. The enemy is unpredictable and without pity and the friendly troops must constantly be cautioned to protect themselves lest they be consumed. Firefighters and their equipment are staged in rear areas, then deployed to the front lines as opportunities for progress are presented. Sometimes they must bravely stand their ground as the roaring monster moves toward their line protecting a whole neighborhood. Sometimes the wind and tornadoes of fire forces a retreat and homes burn before their eyes, but other times their efforts are successful and lives and property are preserved. We salute these brave men and women, many of whom work as unpaid volunteers. May God bless and protect them. The Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado is no exception to any of these factors and we hope our reader find this information of value.

We observe the stunning rapidity of the Waldo Canyon Colorado wild fire and remind our readers of the necessity for prior evacuation planning. The cause of this rapidly growing fire is still undetermined but prospects for its containment are not good. We urge all readers to consider the likely threats in their respective geographic locality and think through how they would accomplish evacuation if necessary. We also urge readers, even if they do not live in proximity to known hazards, to read the information (below) coming out of the joint information center. This material should stimulate thinking and raise questions that need to be answered by each individual or family. The reader should note a section on animal evacuation. We strongly urge readers to carefully consider how their domestic (pets) and/or livestock (small and large) would be evacuated if the need arose. Animal evacuation is a serious matter and requires careful planning if chaos is to be minimized. At present four major fire incidents are being managed in Colorado alone. The west is bracing for a deadly fire 2012 season.


We frankly admire the professional skill with which the Unified Command team is handling this incident, however we remind our readers that evacuation disrupts one's life completely, and families must consider how they would manage such a necessity. Flams up to 30 ft, high are being generated by the large trees torching and supported by a heavy forrest undergrowth. Updrafts also place firefighting aircraft and their crews in great danger. This is a situation completely unforgiving of any mistakes.

 

We also applaud the Red Cross for the great humanitarian service done in opening, provisioning, and managing evacuation shelters. But we ask the reader to consider if their family might not be more comfortable and better served by arranging to stay with friends or family instead of in a large crowded public shelter? 

 

 From Waldo Canyon Fire Joint Information Center:

UPDATE - 6:50 p.m. The Mandatory Evacuation Order for Manitou Springs will be released at 8 p.m. Note - Crystal Park is not in the Manitou Springs jurisdiction and is still under Mandatory Evacuation.

Hwy 24 is closed west of Colorado Springs - In particular, westbound is closed near the west exit for Manito Springs, and eastbound is closed at the El Paso/Teller County Line near Crystola.

Waldo Canyon Fire Joint Information Center telephone numbers are: 719-520-7183, 719-520-7069, 720-402-7935, 720-237-9947, 720-237-3417. For official Twitter updates: @epcsheriff and @springsgov

Mandatory Evacuation Orders Already In Place :

  • Cedar Heights Subdivision and Mountain Shadows south of Chuck Wagon. Boundaries are Rampart Range Road to the west and everything west of 30thand Centennial from Gateway Road north to Chuck Wagon. This is the only mandatory or voluntary evacuation in effect at this time in Colorado Springs City limits.
  • CORRECTION to reported voluntary evacuations for Mountain Shadows. There are no Mandatory Evacuation Orders in place at this time for Mountain Shadows other than those south of Chuck Wagon Road.
  • Garden of the Gods Park and Garden of the Gods Visitor Center are closed.
  • Green Mountain Falls, Chipita Park, and Cascade (on both sides of Hwy 24)
  • Farish and Corrol Lake off Rampart Range Road
  • Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Garden of the Gods Park, Palmer Park and Pikes Peak Highway are CLOSED.
  • To have your phone on the "reverse 911" for evacuation notices, go to elpasoteller911.org
  • Pre Evacuation Notices (These are precautionary notices only - not Mandatory Evacuation, but be prepared to evacuate on short notice if official notification for Evacuation occurs)

    • In Teller County: East of Safeway, north of Safeway to Rampart Range Road, south to Edlow Road

    Evacuation Centers

    Red Cross Evacuation Centers are at Summit Elementary School in Divide and Cheyenne Mountain HS. For information on evacuee's who have registered at an Evacuation Center, call the Red Cross at 719-785-2724 (and be prepared to write down the various numbers to call). To volunteer to help during this emergency, please register at www.pparc.org.

    Animal Shelters

    • Animal Shelters list at http://www.springsgov.com/units/communications/Animal%20shelter%20list.pdf.
    • Humane Society is now FULL. Cheyenne Mountain HS shelter cannot accept any additional small animals at the shelter. Please see the list for other options
    • Large animal shelter at Penrose Equestrian Center - (719) 520-7773 and at Teller County Fairgrounds in Cripple Creek.
    • Rocky Mountain Health Care Services is offering a shelter option and can take small pets with evacuees. 310 S. 14thStreet. 719-641-2747

 

This is what the firefighters are up against as they try to contain the conflagration.

Outlook

Planned Actions

Point protection of structures and communication sites. Establish anchor point along Hwy 24.

Growth Potential

3,000 to 5,000 additional acres. High rate of spread potential to the north and east, significant spread possible to the west into Cascade and Green Mountain Falls, and south into Cedar Heights.

Terrain Difficulty

High

 

 High Park Colorado fire not yet under control, evacuation orders remain in place

Progress has been made in containing the High Park Colorado fire, but it is still very dangerous to both firefighters and civilian personnel./property. We have the latest update available as of this hour from the Unified Command Center.

We also note acts of extraordinary sacrifice such as the volunteer firefighters who chose to stand their ground, saving the historic Stove Prarie school (below) from flames while their own homes burned on a nearby ridge.

historic prarie school saved by volunteers homes burn

FIRE OVERVIEW

Sunday crews continued to reinforce line, mop up and work structure protection throughout the fire. Firefighters feel fairly secure about the north side of the fire in the Glacier View area; however, this will continue to be a focus tomorrow. The southwest portion of the fire remains an area of concern. Fire was backing down there today and got pretty aggressive. Firefighters added fire in the area to work it to their advantage, but now large scale burning out took place. There were spot fires, but crews caught them today. Crews will continue to work this area tonight. Firefighters also continued to monitor and reinforce portions of the south side of the fire and feel fairly confident in this area.

Monday firefighters will continue to strengthen the line on the north, monitor areas with structures and other areas throughout, staff the southwest portion heavily, and holding on to what we've got.

A (Radiometric Airborne Mapping System) RAMS unit was ordered and arrived Saturday afternoon. The radiometric imaging system, attached to the bottom of a helicopter, will provide infrared information similar to what officials have been using, with some key differences. The advantage of the RAMS unit is that it can be used during the daytime, and it can provide real time GPS coordinates for areas of identified heat. In addition it can provide information about the heat source (open flame, smoldering, buried, or diminishing heat). This information will help firefighters determine where suppression efforts should be focused.

WEATHER

A Red Flag Warning was in effect through 8 p.m. Sunday. Another Red Flag Warning is issued for Monday.

EVACUATION INFORMATION

- PRE-evacuation notifications sent to residents along Colorado Highway 14 from the Pingree Park Road on 6/19, west to Glen Echo (mile marker 90), and north on CR69 to Goodell Corner. The pre-evacuation notice was issued in response to a new spot fire north of Highway 14 along the northwest fire perimeter. The Shoreline Drive area is also in a pre-evacuation.

fire devours the mountains

Last modified on Monday, 25 June 2012 12:09

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