Waldo Canyon Fire Updates 6/27/12

Update: 10:02 PM

For Woodland Park area evacuation information, please CLICK HERE.

Update: 9:30 PM.

Latest Waldo Canyon Fire numbers: 18,500 acres; 5% containment; 1000 personnel; 500 Sheriff/PD; 27 crews; 73 engines; 3 water tenders; 0 injuries

Update 5:30pm, Summary of Press Briefing @4pm

Audio and photos from the press briefing here.

Jerri Marr, USFS: "Acreage of the fire is 15,324. We won't have an accurate count of acres involved until an infrared flight tonight. How are we using the military/why aren't we using military? We are...on dozer lines. They've had conversations with General Jacoby about additional services."

Steve Cox, Mayor's Office vice chair of executive team: "My job mandate from the Mayor is to look at the property assessment issue. We've started the assessment of burned homes, but have no numbers today. The process of assessment is to notify citizens in a way that is sensitive and compassionate, identify burned homes, and meeting with folks who have a loss. This is a grieving process. In the next 24 hours we hope to have more numbers of people impacted."

Rich Brown, Fire Chief CSFD: "There have been properties affected by the fire. Conditions have been erratic. There have been firefighters in Mt. Shadows since 4-5pm yesterday. We're aggressively, offensively attacking the fire. The reason we're slow to assess damage is because we're still fighting an active fire. The city and county services are operating and you'll be provided for and taken care of. There are some open gas mains in Mt. Shadows. The area is not safe enough to assess."

Pete Carry, Police Chief CSPD: "Number one concern is safety and security. We've received help from Fountain, El Paso County Sheriff's Office, Dept. of Corrections, Drug Enforcement Adminstration, FBI, Aurora Police Department, Pueblo Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Colorado State Patrol. The plan for notification [of people whose homes have burned] ensures fairness, dignity and respect. Process of notification will take at least several days. A request to media: allow the process to work as respectfully as possible for the families and individuals affected by the fire. In other words, please give us privacy and consideration as we notify people. We're committed to sharing as much information as we can once the process in complete."

Rich Harvey, Incident Commander: "I hate the wind! The wind is picking up and causing problems. We are getting the resources that we need from so many different sources. The map shown is a progression map. (See photo above.) Here's where the fire was on the 23rd, on the 24th it moved south, on the 25th it moved north, and on the 26th it moved east. Wind is a big factor, the reason it is difficult to fight. Today: good progress and hold along highway 24. There is one hotspot area of concern. It is hard to get to, so we're hitting it with lots of air support. If they can sure up the hotspot, they'll feel pretty comfortable about the southeastern edge of the fire. In the Sand Gulch area they're working on dozer lines from Highway 24 to Rampart Range Road. Crews are working on dozer lines by widening them and removing brush and fallen trees. At the top of the fire: holding along Rampart Range Road and Powerline Road. Working to improve Powerline Road... improving it, strengthening it and armoring it. Fire is moving up and around Blodgett Peak. Fire is threatening repeater site around Stanley. They're concerned about the repeater site. Helicopters are working that spot. It's a major concern at this time. Other places of concern, the wind is pushing the fire back into Colorado Springs, just north of where it hit yesterday. They're well aware of it and have a lot of troops stationed in that area. No report of structures involved at this time. They're waiting for it [the fire], and pursuing the fire into the wild land interface.

Brett Water, Emergency Management Director: "Update... no more mandatory evacuations. However, there have been pre-evacuations today in Holland Park and Pleasant Valley. Shelters are still open at Lewis Palmer in Monument, Cheyenne Mountain HS, Southeast YMCA, also insurance agencies are ready to get in and work with homeowners. You can get the Joint Information Numbers at springsgov.com.

Jerri Marr, USFS: "There have been lots of calls into the JIC. Questions about utilities and Country Services. The next two people will address those questions."

Jerry Forte, CEO Colorado Springs Utilities: "Colorado Springs Utilities supporting Incident Command with people, assets and water. Focus is to protect utility assets and continue serving the community. As a safety precaution, natural gas remains off in evacuation areas as directed by Incident Command. Electricity is on for all except about 800 customers in Mt. Shadows. Focus is to keep electricity on for pumping water. Water system is serving all customers at this time. Water quality is not an issue at this time. Please conserve water!"

Amy Lathen, Chair of El Paso County Commissioners: "Here is a recap of county services status. Some services are setup at remote locations. Their Citizen Center on Garden of the Gods is closed due to the evacuation. Services that have been moved:

• Dept of Human Services: Economic services, including food assistance services is at 17 North Spruce in the old DHS building

• Child and Adult Protective Services: case workers using remote locations.

• Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline at 719-444-5700 and Adult Abuse and Intake line at 719-444-5755 are staffed and taking calls as usual.

• Public Health at 719-578-3199 will be staffed for questions about birth & death certificates, clinics and immunizations.

• WIC (Women & Infant Children), staff offering food vouchers only for clients in need of infant formula/special formula that usually have appointments at Citizen Service Center. Alternate location for WIC clients is at the southeast part of the county at 97 Widefield Blvd. in Widefield. Call 719-578-3199 for information.

• Pikes Peak Workforce Center: basic processing for unemployment insurance will be available at Pikes Peak Workforce Center at the Loraine Center at 301 E. Iowa in Fountain. 719-444-8311.

• County Assessor: online as usual.

• Treasurer: Delinquent June tax payments accepted when Citizen Service Center re-opens.

• County Recorder: all services at three other locations: Southeast at Airport and Powers, Union Town Cetner at 8830 N. Union and Centennial Hall, 200 South Cascade. Clerk expects to complete the processing of the relatively few uncounted ballets from yesterday's election."

Air operations are still active as of 4:15pm. Fire crews were engaged in Mt. Shadows all night long... 24/7 presence. A combination of structure and wild land firefighters are in the mix of people fighting the fires. So far 31,000 evacuees. About 3000 evacuated from Crystola.

Press briefing at 4pm, summary to follow.

Update 3:08pm: PUEBLO – CSU-Pueblo Provides Emergency Shelter for Fire Victims

Colorado State University-Pueblo is providing emergency shelter for its employees and Colorado Springs residents who have been evacuated from their homes. It will open its Greenhorn Residence Hall beginning tomorrow, June 28 at 7 a.m. until Thursday, July 5 at 4 p.m.

There will be approximately 200 beds available. Those needing housing assistance must have valid identification with either a driver’s license or military ID. A $10 nightly fee will be charged and linens will be available for an additional fee. Persons needing such assistance should call the “CSU-Pueblo Emergency Shelter Hotline” at 719-250-0646.

The university is not able to accept donations. Persons wanting to assist the fire victims can donate items to The Edge business in Pueblo, or the Colorado Springs World Arena in collaboration with Care and Share.

Update 2pm: Pre-Evac given for Holland Park, Pleasant Valley neighborhoods.

Pleasant Valley:

Gateway Road to the north, heading east to North 30th Street, which then heads south to Fontanero Street and west to 31st Street

South on 31st Street to Highway 24

West on Highway 24 to the Colorado Springs city limits; at this point the boundary follows the city limit north and slightly west to Garden Lane

Garden Lane north to Gateway Road

Holland Park:

Garden of the Gods Road as the northern boundary

Centennial Blvd is the western boundary

I-25 is the eastern boundary

Fillmore Street as the southern boundary

Update 1pm: Crystola, both El Paso County and Teller County portions now under evacuation. More near Woodland Park likely.

El Paso County Sheriff: PRE-EVAC warning Douglas County- Palmer Divide Road North to Noe Road by Spruce Mountain on the east- Rampart Range Rd.on the west.

Excellent evacuation and fire map at the Gazette: http://www3.gazette.com/fire/

Evac Map from SpringsGov.com PDF

8AM Press Briefing

Jerri Marr: "Yesterday was a busy day, a tough day. Fire got into town. We want you to know that there is a unified command. Who's in charge? All the people you see at this press conference, with delegation of authority to the Incident Commander. We're working as a team until we put this fire out. So far, 15,324 acres are burning or have burnt. How do I find out about my home? The worst thing that we could do would be to guess. We are having successes and we're committed to the fight to the very end."

Rich Brown, Fire Chief CSFD: "All firefighters have been fighting all night. Countless houses have been saved. This is a very active fire that is not close to being contained. We're working as a team... Denver to Pueblo working in concert. We still have a city to manage... and the city is still managed with many calls for service being answered. We're doing everything to save houses."

Pete Carry, Police Chief CSPD: "26,000 people in the city have been evacuated. Neighborhoods in affected areas are being protected by police."

Lt. Jeff Kramer, El Paso County Sheriff: "This event is unprecedented. Traffic relief is coming from El Paso County Sheriff and Colorado Springs Police Department. Calls to rural areas have netted 100 firefighters and 32 apparatuses. Highway 24 is unchanged; the line is holding; no fire on the south side of Ute Pass; evacuations are still in place; Hwy 24 is still closed."

Mayor Bach: "Police department helped to evacuate 26,000 people. The city is unified. We'll get through this together."

Brett Water, Emergency Management Colorado Springs: "The shelters are open and still the same. Please check-in with the Red Cross. They will be making a damage assessment of burned homes. However, this is an active fire and they will gather information when they can safely do so on the burnt homes. A new animal shelter has opened. 26,000 people have been evacuated. Planning for an event like this has been in place, including evacuation planning."

Rich Harvey, Incident Commander: "A challenging day... historically challenging day. The response to the fire has been unified--law, police, medical, etc. 800 firefighters are working on this fire with 200 more on the way. We're looking for as many resources as possible. The focus today: The entire fire. We still have 5% containment. The highway 24 line is holding. Bad news is that this is a wind driven fire, and more problems with the fire are in the future due to impending thunderstorms and the strong wind, gusts that come with them. We have personnel on the ground and in the air. Cooperative efforts are obvious because there have been no injuries."

Jill Law, El Paso County Health RN: "Air quality is a huge issue. Air quality in Colorado Springs area is unhealthy. We're getting reports of shortness of breath and dizziness. If you can stay inside, stay inside with the windows closed and the air conditioning on, if you have it. There is smoke throughout the city. Drink plenty of water. Visit the library or a mall to get out of the heat. Use recirculate option on your air conditioning in your home and car."

Andy Fletches, Colorado Springs Utilities: "All four utilities are operating, functioning. During this incident, service has not been lost. Utilities have been shut off in fire zones. All pumps and tanks are operational. Water quality has NOT been compromised. Don't worry about your utilities services. Questions can go to 719-448-4800."

Jerri Marr: "Evacuations... heed them! Weather changes quickly. Don't assume you can get out. July 4th celebration and fireworks. Now is NOT the time for fireworks. There is a fire ban!"

32,500 people have been evacuated between El Paso County and the city of Colorado Springs.

At this time, there is no person of interest in the cause of the fire. El Paso County Sheriff's office is sorting through tips. At this point, they haven't determined the cause of the fire and there is no person of interest. /DU

The spread of the Waldo Canyon fire has forced the Postal Service to relocate postal operations for affected customers to pick up their mail. More info.

Care and Share accepting donations from 7am until 6pm for the rest of this week. 2605 Preamble Pt, 1/2 mi east on Constitution from Powers.

Evacuees should register with the Red Cross: http://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php

Next media briefing will happen at the UCCS Rec Center Parking Lot: Austin Bluffs & Stanton. Next Briefing 8am.

For yesterday's updates, click here.