#BlackForestFire Updates, Sunday, 6/16/13

View the latest map of evacuation areas here. (Time stamped 4 PM Sunday.)

8:30 PM (posted at 9:30)

An updated home assessment list (as of 7:30 PM) is available here. 483 total loss; 17 partial loss; 3633 appears unaffected.

Four areas of mandatory evacuation in El Paso County have been downgraded to pre-evacuation status. Access is limited to residents, who must have a driver's license or vehicle registration to prove residency. Residents entering the new pre-evacuation area need to enter from the north off of Hodgen Road. Returning residents should be aware of and yield to emergency vehicles. Law enforcement will continue patrols.

1. The area between Highland Estates Drive west to Black Forest Rd, from Walker Rd south to Hodgen Rd. is now on Pre Evac.

2. The area west of Vollmer Rd. from Hogden Rd south to just south of Kirk Dr, then west across Wildridge Rd. just south of Basin Dr. across Black Forest Rd, just south of Country Estates Lane, turning north west to connect with the current boundary line.
Kirk Dr. is now on Pre Evac
Basin Dr. is now on Pre Evac
Country Estates Lane is now on Pre Evac
Connaught Dr. is still in the Mandatory Evac zone.
Areas on the east side of Vollmer Rd are still in the Mandatory Evac zone.

3. The a small area just east of Hwy 83 including Abert Way and Chickaree Lane is now on Pre Evacuation

4. The area between Shoup Rd. south to Burgess Rd., from Howells Rd. east to Vollmer Rd. is now on Pre Evac status.
Shoup Road remains closed to all citizens for the safety of emergency personnel and emergency vehicles utilizing the road to continue to fight the fire.
Residents with addresses on Shoup Rd., Donavan Lane, Casey Lane, Glenridge Lane and Clear Lane will not be allowed to access their homes off of Shoup Rd.

Residents should know that electricity was shut off in these areas for an extended period of time, and dumpsters will be available at 10 am at the North Black Forest Fire Station on the turnout at Ridge Run Road and at the Southeast corner of Burgess, and the El Paso County Slash and Mulch Site on Herring Road. Heavy duty plastic trash bags will be available at these sites as well. Regular trash removal will resume on Tuesday.

The latest details on evacuation zones from El Paso County. Click for more detail. 7 AM 6/16/13 (SUN)

4:30 PM

Containment: 65%.

An updated assessment list has been released (as of 4 PM): Total loss 483, Partial Damage 17, Appears Unaffected 3615. Information is subject to change as assessments continue.

The county has issued a statement reiterating Sheriff Terry Maketa's earlier comments regarding re-entry, and clarifying where they stand on a potential credentialing process. No credentials are being issued at this time, and though planning is underway for re-entry, the county says it's still not safe. “There are still areas of active fire and hot spots throughout the burn area,” Maketa said, but we’re not close. Firefighters are walking each property putting out stumps and brush fires as they pop up. We are working long days and long hours to get people back in there but we can’t just drop roadblocks and let people in that would be reckless and irresponsible.”

The information was originally delivered during today's noon press briefing (audio below).

Here's the entire press release:

Credential Plan Has Not Been Finalized-No Credentials Are Being Issued
Safety of Residents and Security of Neighborhoods is Highest Priority

El Paso County CO., (Sunday, June 16, 2013) – The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office says planning is underway to facilitate an orderly and safe process for citizens to return to properties in burn area neighborhoods as soon as it is safe. “There are still areas of active fire and hot spots throughout the burn area,” Maketa said, but we’re not close. Firefighters are walking each property putting out stumps and brush fires as they pop up. We are working long days and long hours to get people back in there but we can’t just drop roadblocks and let people in that would be reckless and irresponsible.”

There are falling trees, downed power lines, unsafe wooden bridges and ruptured gas mains throughout the area. Traffic is still being impacted by the movement of water tankers, bulldozers, cranes and road repair equipment. El Paso County Public Services is working to assess the safety of roads and bridges and make emergency repairs as needed in areas heavily impacted by the fire and Inspectors from the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department are reviewing the safety of standing structures.

During Saturday’s community meeting in Monument there was inaccurate information provided about a process for citizens to obtain a placard required to get back into the burn area. That information came from a planning meeting where possible scenarios for re-entry were discussed but no decisions were made and no process has been established at this time.

There will be firefighters, medical personnel, public health and security personnel in place to assist citizens when reentry can be done safely.

Residents are urged to stay in contact for the latest information through local media outlets and at www.elpasoco.com and to follow the very latest as it develops through Twitter at: #blackforestfire

2:35 PM

El Paso County officials have released their latest update to the home assessment process: 485 homes destroyed, 17 partial damage, 3607 appear unaffected. The assessments are ongoing, and the information is subject to change. Here's the updated list, as of 2 PM.

12 noon press briefing:

Containment is now at 65%.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa:

Another successful night- didn't lose any land or structures.
Criminal activity- to date 4 burglaries, 1 obstruction of law enforcement (which means they were in a place they shouldn't have been and resisted leaving), 1 impersonation. He considers the numbers fairly low for the size of the area, and says the crimes will be pursued, and the District Attorney will take them all very seriously. Law enforcement is still heavily patrolling the area.
On the identification of the victims: They do have a good idea of who they are, but it takes time, and are waiting for absolute confirmation.

Incident Commander Rich Harvey:

Containment is at 65%. Crews had a good night--nothing went backwards, all forward progress.
Have not released any of the ground crews.
There's not a lot of active flames, not a lot of open flames. Crews are on search and destroy missions--they see smoke, they go get smoke. It isn't complicated, but it does take time.
Aware of the thunderstorm predictions, air assets in place should anything get beyond troops on the ground.
Plan: Mop up smokes, search and destroy, maintain perimeter, stay alert, stay active, and hydrate. If you're a firefighter, drink lots of water.

Lt. Col. Mitch Utterback, Colorado National Guard:

All military helicopters have been released.
Owe a debt of gratitude to the private landowners, business people, property managers who allowed them to use dip sites.
Those helicopters dropped 1297 precision bucket drops on the fire, 889,135 gallons of water on those flames.
National Guard continues to provide Sheriff Maketa assistance on about 20 checkpoints.
Keys to rapid response: familiarity and decisiveness.
Grateful for "Victory Gauntlet," folks who line up to say thank you.

Darryl Glenn, El Paso County Commissioner:

First community meeting: It's to be expected there are a lot of tensions, but that's why you have a community meeting, because you're dealing with raw emotions. The one thing they don't want to have happen is that people who are feeling that way are kept in isolation, so we will continue to have community meetings. "You are not alone in this whole effort, this community is behind you."

Emails and phone calls: Have received hundreds. Physically incapable of answering all of them, but they are being screened, and read and listened to.

Wants to be able to centralize volunteer efforts. Email [email protected] with a specific area of interest for volunteering in the subject line.

Beginning Phase 1 of Community Action Team: wants to hear from HOA presidents or those who are designated to receive and distribute information, neighborhood leaders in affected areas. The goal is to put together a structure to provide real-time information.

We will get together and rebuild and come back stronger.

Dennis Hisey, Chair of El Paso County Commissioners

Ten teams of building inspectors escorted by a law enforcement official to examine standing structures. Will going through areas as they open up, determined by Sheriff and Incident Command team.

Tomorrow, transportation department will be out examining roads and culverts. Reports of culverts collapsing, need repairs. Want to inspect wooden bridges. Want to ensure it's safe for the public. We don't want to be the limiting factor to you getting back into your house.

The Health Department will have potable water available nearby, and will have a convenient site to administer tetanus shots. "We don't need a tetanus epidemic on top of a disaster." Homes may be in fine shape, but outbuildings are destroyed. If you puncture your skin, we want to make sure you're safe. Announcement will come out.

"We're all working to be ready and to keep you safe when you get in there."

Disaster Assistance Center is open today, and will continue to be as long as you need us. Probably will not move north, as attendance is expected to decline.

As time goes on, specific services like tetanus shots and supply dispersal (trash bags, rakes, etc), "we'll try to find a more convenient spot closer to Black Forest to do that."

EPC Sheriff Terry Maketa:

"You're hearing a lot of talk about getting people home, potable water, those sort of things...I don't want to get the cart ahead of the horse. And I don't want to create a false belief that tomorrow, everybody's going home, because that's not gonna happen."

We have a crime scene in there, fire, downed power lines, trees falling, we have heavy equipment constantly moving around....so we're not even close to ready, let alone having roads inspected, gaslines, we have a long road here.

We're been trying to work with citizens to allow them limited access in emergency situations (meds/pets). It's now being abused. People are using that as a means to get in, and then refusing to leave. If an individual is manipulating the system and refusing to leave, then they will be arrested for obstruction.

Everyone is working long hours every day to get people in there, but we're not close.

Some minor changes in home assessments, working hard on it.

We are planning and moving forward, and when we're ready, we'll let you know. Residents of Black Forest will be the first to have access before any member of the public. "The sooner, the better is the way we're looking at it, but there a lot of things that have to be done before we can do that. We can't just drop road blocks and let everybody run in. That would be reckless and it would be irresponsible."

Evacuation status: I don't anticipate any major evacuation releases today.

"We don't have one area within the red up there yet, that our fire experts...feel comfortable today to clear...to allow people in to access those properties yet." Others are adjacent to what he considers a crime scene until proven otherwise. Will not compromise the investigation by letting people in too soon.

As of noon, all missing persons are accounted for. No further loss of life.

Point of origin? We are zeroing in. Called in extra experts from ATF & state. Task force assembled.

Next media briefing noon Monday.

11:10 AM

According to a press release just received from the El Paso County Sheriff's office, the total size of the fire is 14,198 acres. 1175 people are working on the fire. Cost to date is $5,200,000.

8:40 AM

Containment is at 55% as of 6:30 last night. Per the Colorado Department of Transportation, Highway 83 is OPEN both directions from Powers Blvd - Hwy 105/Walker Rd in the Black Forest area. Evacuations remain in place. Here's a current map from El Paso County, as of 7 PM yesterday. The latest home assessment numbers show 482 homes as a total loss, 17 with partial damage, and 3584 appear unaffected. Here's the latest list, as of 11:00 last night.

Mountain View Electric says some properties allowed to reenter the mandatory evacuated areas (east of Steppler Road and north Hodgen Road as well as east of Black Forest and north of Walker) did lose power for an extended period of time, and are urging people to dispose of spoiled food by placing them in trash bags on the curb by noon for pick up by Dan’s Trash Service. Here's a map for the region.

The El Paso County Sheriff's office said late last night that the residents of last home in "red" who chose not to evacuate have been located and are SAFE.

The tipline for information regarding the fire is (719) 444-8300.