Waldo Canyon Fire Updates 6/26/12

Update: 11:15pm The Evacuation Point at Springs Church in the former Phil Long Expo Center is CLOSING. Those needing shelter should report to one of the following Red Cross Shelters:

Lewis Palmer High School (1300 Higby, Monument, CO)
Cheyenne Mountain High School (1200 Cresta Road)
Southeast YMCA (2190 Jet Wing Drive)

Update: 10:22pm Southbound I-25 open through Colorado Springs. Westbound travel off of I-25 extremely limited due to for fire operations.

Update: 10:15pm MANDATORY EVACUATION: Holland Park & Kissing Camels neighborhoods.

Mandatory evacuation order has been issued for:

The Kissing Camels area, including south of Garden of the Gods Road, west of Centennial Blvd, east of 30th Street, north of Fillmore St. and Fontmore Road.


8:30pm Press Conference
Jerri Marr, USFS: "So, what's happened? At the earlier press conference we were seeing flames. The fire did what we didn't want it to do, which was the fire reaching Queen's Canyon. Fire spotted over the ridge at Queen's Canyon and 65mph wind pushed the flames into the Mt. Shadows community. That's what happened. There are multiple structures on fire in Mt. Shadows. Firefighters were in the canyon, but flame and wind forced the firefighters out of the area. What's going on now? This is historic, unprecedented weather. Precipitation is abnormally low. Extreme drought has impacted the ability to fight fire. We've concerned about every inch of this fire. This is not a time to panic. Safety is always first."

Rich Harvey, Incident Commander: "Operationally, they're focusing on this Mt. Shadows fire. The fire breached primary and secondary containment lines. Wind-aided and fuel conditions, it moved into Colorado Springs. They called on Colorado Springs Fire Department. They shuffled resources to provide as many people as they could for the Mt. Shadows fire. Three strike teams of engines (five each) and they moved three Type One hotshot crews. Continuing to use aerial resources... they have four, hoping for a total of five. The next infrared flight happens tonight at 2300 hours. Focusing operationally on safety for firefighters and the public.

Rich ..., CSFD Fire Chief: "Today there was a firestorm of epic proportions. Right now firefighters from the city, county, state and the feds are all fighting the fire... putting it out while we speak. They are saving many homes... triaging homes. Often one house will be a loss, but the houses around it were saved. Brothers and sisters from north and south are coming or are on the way. We've been fighting since Saturday and the wind absolutely blew-up on us this afternoon. Firefighters are right in the middle of the fire and doing everything to save properties. Now is not the time to talk about how it happened."

Sheriff Maketa: "Folks have questions about shelters. Lewis Palmer and Phil Long Expo center are the two most recently added resources to those that have been evacuated. Still have Cheyenne Mountain, the southeast YMCA @4610 Summit Drive. Websites: springsgov.com, inciweb.org, and the El Paso County webpage. We've had three days of successes... but fire has very scary attributes. Today was eye opening. We evacuate based on experience. Weather is a big factor. At the sheriff's dept they're doing all they can jointly with city and Colorado Springs and the United States Forest Service. With national partnerships they have 800 firefighters working together. All of law enforcement is working together. 32,000 people have been evacuated. Evacuations go beyond just Mt. Shadows and South Air Force Academy. There are lots of people needing resources. The most critical thing is to get information to the 32,000 people that have been displaced. All firefighters take the loss of a home personally."

Next News Conference happens at 8:30pm. Andrea Chalfin is there.

Via CDOT: Southbound I-25 at Interquest Parkway is closed due to wildfire smoke. Detour in place using CO 21.

A second Red Cross Shelter has been set up at the YMCA on 2190 Jetwing Drive. The Red Cross Shelter at Cheyenne Mountain High School is still accepting pets with evacuees. Evacuees that want to take pets should go to Cheyenne Mountain High School.

The Humane Society has set up an animal shelter at the Freedom Financial Expo Center on North Nevada.

Manditory Evacuation Map (PDF)

UPDATE: Waldo Canyon Fire behavior continues to change and be aggressive. A new mandatory evacuation order has been issued for:

Rockrimmon and Woodmen Valley, west and north of Woodmen Road and I-25 and west and north of Rockrimmon Blvd and Vindicator Drive.

Pinon Valley and Pine Cliff,  west and north of Garden of the Gods Road and I-25 to Centennial north to Ute Valley Park

The mandatory evacuation order remains for all of Cedar Heights, Mountain Shadows and Peregrine. Residents are asked to leave the area immediately and may not return home.

Residents are being notified by reverse 911 calls and by uniformed police officers advising them of the mandatory evacuation. If residents choose not to comply with these mandatory evacuation orders, the Colorado Springs Police Department and Colorado Springs Fire Department may not be able to assist you or guarantee your protection.

The Red Cross Shelter at the Cheyenne Mountain High School is open.  Residents can bring small caged pets and companion animals (cats & dogs) with them to the shelter.  The Penrose Equestrian Center is sheltering large animals.

EVACUATION OF PINE VALLEY BASE HOUSINGU.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo., -  The installation commander has issued an evacuation order for all residents in Pine Valley Housing on the Air Force Academy.

Effective immediately, all residents need to depart the installation.If you have not already made evacuation arrangements, please report to the main gate (Gate 1) of Fort Carson.

Identify yourself as a resident evacuating from the Air Force Academy.  From there, proceed to the Fort Carson Special Events Center.  The Center is a gymnasium-type facility so personnel should limit baggage to the minimum requirements for three days.

There is limited capacity for pets.  Pet owners should reference Inciweb.org.  Click on "Waldo Canyon Fire" for information on local pet shelters.  If you do bring pets to Fort Carson they must be in an appropriate pet carrier.  Pets will be housed separately, in the open air, from their owners.

If evacuating to Fort Carson, you are asked to bring blankets and pillows, toiletries and clothing for at least 3 days.

A list of other evacuation items is posted on www.usafa.af.mil.  Click on the "Waldo Canyon Fire" tab.

Personnel assigned to USAFA should report to their chain of command, once they arrive at their evacuation destination.

The portion of the Academy that houses cadets is not being evacuated at this time.

For updates on the evacuation, go to www.usafa.af.mil and click on the "Waldo Canyon Fire" tab or call the Straight Talk Line at 719-333-7876.

Via Gazette: Mandatory evacuations: Everything north of Vindicator to south of Air Force Academy on west side of I-25.

Evacuation notice: North Mountain Shadows & Peregrine: North of Chuckwagon, West of Centennial to Orchard Vally & northwest of Orchard Vally to Woodmen. Repeat: Evacuation notice.

4PM Press Conference.

Jerri Marr, USFS: "A lot of smoke and fire. The white column of smoke rising right now is the center of the problem. The problem now is Queen's Canyon. Lots of activity today. Are all the evacuations and pre-evacuations necessary? YES. Fires can move quickly. Thanks to residents and the community for all their help with evacuations."

Rich Harvey, Incident Commander: "The fire today is daunting. Firefighters are focused on Rampart Range Road. The fire has established itself in Queen's Canyon and is moving north up through Queen's Canyon. There has been continued air support today. The east side of the fire is the problem and it is hindered by the wind. The good news is that the wind is blowing the fire away from the line established by Highway 24. Firefighters are working to protect Eagle Lake grounds and structures. No more structures have been lost. In Queen's Canyon, the fire is moving north and moving in the area of Rampart Reservoir.

Sheriff Maketa: "Lots of folks asking why Highway 24 hasn't been opened. There is no way that Highway 24 could be opened right now. Visibility is almost zero due to the smoke. There are active flames on the right side of the highway headed up Ute Pass. Firefighters are in the road throughout the pass monitoring hot spots and embers jumping over the road. Also concerned about people in the pass stopping to observe the fire. For at least the next 24 hours, Ute Pass will not be opened. Sheriff's office moved forward with changing Crystal Park evacuation to voluntary. They feel they could get people out in time, were conditions to change in that area. Small fires have been popping up in the area, stretching the resources of local firefighters. Has confidence in structure protection. Fire mitigation is working and homeowners should keep it up. Priority is getting everyone back to their homes, but not at the cost of a life. They want to do everything to keep firefighters safe. This is an unpredictable fire that is dictated by the weather. They have been receiving many calls on their tip line, thank you. Know that no one will call you back, but the information is being gathered from your calls. Lastly, if you've been asked to prepare to leave, prepare to leave. They do not want to create a panic evacuation."

Mayor Bach: "The balance of Mountain Shadows and Perigrine that was under pre-evacuation notice is now on Maditory Evacuation status."

The fire is still 5% contained. Progress has been made along Highway 24. The fire is getting bigger. Wind has driven the fire up Queen's Canyon.

Update: El Paso County Sheriff downgrades the mandatory evacuation for Crystal Park to a VOLUNTARY evacuation. Evacuation recommended, but not enforced.

UPDATE 1:50pm 6/26/12 Pre-evacuation notice: North Mountain Shadows & Peregrine: North of Chuckwagon, West of Centennial to Orchard Vally & northwest of Orchard Vally to Woodmen. Repeat: Pre-Evacuation.

Sign up for evacuation notices at http://elpasoteller911.org or 719-471-6700

Good fire map at the Gazette.

Due to a change in fire activity, CSPD is halting escorted visits into Mountain Shadows for evacuees.

Pre-Evacuation area has been expanded for the Woodland Park area to include the following areas of Woodland Park and Teller County: ALL RESIDENTS EAST OF HWY 24 NORTH OF EL PASO/TELLER COUNTY LINE TO BALDWIN STREET AND RAMPART RANGE ROAD. Repeat: Pre-Evacuation.


Evacuations (in Spanish)

Park Closures in Colorado Springs

Burn Ban in Colorado Springs

Wildland Fire Investigators Seek Public's Help

Postal Service Changes

Official Waldo Canyon info via inciweb.org

8AM Press Briefing, 6/26/12

Jerri Marr, USFS: "The Waldo Canyon fire has made a run up into Wellington Gulch. A structure at Eagle Lake Camp was destroyed. No homes have been lost and there are no injuries."

Rich Harvey, Incident Commander: "The fire has moved to the northwest into Wellington Gulch. It moved into the Eagle Lake camp ground. A small tent shed was lost. Firefighters still have good containment at Cascade and Cedar Heights. The next area of focus for firefighters is Rampart Range Road. Firefighters are trying to connect the dots between the Cascade and Cedar Heights containment lines. The fire is NOT in Queen's Canyon."

Jeff Kramer, El Paso County Sheriff: "Evacuations are unchanged. Road closures are the same. Hwy 24 still closed between Cave of the Winds and Crystola. The fire has affected boulders, rocks in Ute pass, creating hazards for drivers.

Mayor Bach: "Colorado Springs police will let evacuees from Mountain Shadows into their homes for half an hour. Go to the area, introduce yourself to police, show ID and you'll be escorted to your home for half an hour. Police are available throughout the day. City services and utilities are still working at full speed."

Audio from the 8am press briefing:

Heavy smoke again blankets the area as the Waldo Canyon Fire continues to burn. Current acreage is about 4500 with 5% containment. Around 600 personnel are fighting the blaze. Officials estimate about 4825 people are evacuated, and over 750 attended last night's community meetings. MAFFs on C-130 propeller planes were also mobilized yesterday to help fight the fire. Please note that elections are still occurring. Residents need to turn in their ballots by 7 PM Tuesday. Please note that elections are still occurring. Residents need to turn in their ballots by 7 PM Tuesday.

As of 9:30 PM Monday, officials put containment of the Waldo Canyon Fire at 5%. Official size of the fire is 4500 acres. 600 personnel are activated for the fire. Please note that elections are still occurring. Residents need to turn in their ballots by 7 PM Tuesday.

Audio from 4PM press conference, Monday 06/25/12:

Mayor Bach conferences prior to 4 PM press briefing, Monday

El Paso County Sheriff asking please DON'T bring snacks, water, etc. to staging areas. Give to Care and Share for distribution.

On air update 5:30pm, 6/25/12 (Go to full post to listen.)


UPDATE 4PM 6/25/12 Press briefing.

Jerri Marr, USFS:"This is still the number one fire in the country. Weather is pushing the fire. But, today, firefighters have been able to go on the offensive. There are 450 firefighters working on the fire. About 3500 acres involved. Cost so far is $750,000 and will increase with more air support. Latest evacuation count is 1606 homes evacuated, or 3055 people. Fire is not impacting Teller county at this point. However, pay attention to any reverse 911 calls. Fire is still moving in multiple directions." Rich Harvey, Incident Commander: "Fire fighters now have two footholds or 'anchor points' from where they can work: Cascade subdivision and Rampart Range Road/Cedar Heights. From the anchor points, they have room to work. They can bulldoze lines to stop the fire and move left or right... south. Fire still hasn't crossed Hwy 24. Considers fire 5% contained. Acreage of fire is still the same. So far, no injuries. Firefighters facing tough conditions; commanders stressing hydration. In Cedar Heights, CSFD is up there... fire is bumping up angst containment lines there, but they're aware that it is." Sheriff Laurie Sevine: "There are no new evacuations at this time. Evacuation shelters still the same. Road closures, still the same. Anyone with information about cause of fire should call 719-477-4205." Mayor Bach: "This is a unified effort between Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, State and Federal offices. It's important that we work together. Thanks to evacuees and their cooperation. Goodwill still needs volunteers."

Next press briefing will be at 8AM, 6/26/12.

Update: Monday 6/25/12 3:40pm

Next media briefing at 4PM.

Mayor Bach asking for citywide fire mitigation.

Update: Monday 25th 2:30pm

Fire Investigators asking for public help with leads for cause of Waldo Canyon Fire. 719-477-4205  Extended information here.

Update: Monday 25th 8am

Audio from press conference:

The Waldo Canyon Fire has grown to 3,446 acres with 0% containment. Despite the growth officials say yesterday was a good day. Extreme behavior is expected today due to minimal cloud coverage and high temperatures. MAFFs will not be available until tomorrow, but other air tankers are on standby. The El Paso County Sheriff says no new evacuations have been ordered but he is not expecting to lift any additional evacuation notices. No injuries have been reported or structures lost at this point, but 6,000 people are still evacuated. For information the public can call 719-629-7322. Community meetings will be held tonight at 7 o'clock at Cheyenne Mountain High School and Summit Elementary in Divide. Another update will be available in the 4 o'clock hour.

For changes to Postal Service operations for Green Mountain Falls, Cascade, Cedar Heights, and portions of Rockrimmon, click here.

Thick smoke descended on much of the Colorado Springs area Sunday evening as firefighters continue to fight the Waldo Canyon Fire. While the fire remains at 0% containment, the mandatory evacuation for Manitou Springs is lifted as of 8PM, and per the El Paso County Sheriff's office, the westbound Hwy 24 closure will move to Cave of the Winds to allow for Manitou residents to return. Crystal Park is still under evacuation orders. Still, officials are calling the fire a "complex incident," and say residents should still be prepared due to the unpredictable nature of fire. El Paso County Sheriff says residents should expect ashes and smoke to drift into town with the evening, and that the Colorado Springs Fire Department will monitor for any hot spots. As of 9:30 PM Sunday, total burned acreage is estimated at 3600 and growing. A Type I Incident Management Team has arrived and transition of command has taken place. No injuries, no structures lost.

Evacuation Map (Gazette)

Mandatory evacuationsremain in effect for the following areas:

Crystal Park

Cedar Heights Subdivision and Mountain Shadows south of Chuck Wagon. Boundaries are Rampart Range Road to the west and everything west of 30th and Centennial from Gateway Road north to Chuck Wagon.

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:

Summit Elementary School in Divide

Cheyenne Mountain High School.

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.

Resources currently in use: 450 firefighters; 3 heavy air tankers; 4 single engine air tankers (SEATs); 1 lead plane; 1 Type-1 helicopter; 1 Type-3 helicopter. Officials expect complete transition to Type 1 team by morning. MAFFs from Peterson Air Force Base being mobilized.

Audio of the 4 PM press conference, Sunday 6/24/12:

For previous updates regarding the Waldo Canyon, click here.