Thousands without power in Colorado Springs as wind downs power lines and sparks fires

Andrea Chalfin/KRCC News
Downed tree limbs lay in the curb on Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs. Monday, May 6, 2024.

High winds in the Pikes Peak region Monday caused power outages, prompting some schools to close for the day and the mobile library units from the Pikes Peak Library District to cancel stops. Downed power lines also started a fire in the southwest part of the city that was quickly contained and another on Cheyenne Mountain that is still burning.

Ashley Franco with the Colorado Springs Fire Department said Monday morning that extra staff is moving around to downed trees and power lines and dealing with any grass fires that may pop up as a result.

"As soon as an engine gets there, they're going to take over and kind of move on," she said. "So making sure that we can get our resources wherever they need to go. Obviously during this type of weather there's always the possibility for a wildfire, so we ask that you be prepared."

In addition to the fire in the southwest part of the city, Andrew Notbohm with the Pikes Peak Office of Emergency Management said another fire popped up Monday in the Crystal Park neighborhood near Manitou Springs.

"What we're hearing from crews out there is that the fuels are not very receptive right now to fire growth," Notbohm said. "With our green up and some of the wet weather, we're not seeing much growth in those fires, even though they're strong winds."

Colorado Springs Utilities originally reported an outage affecting around 3,100 customers Monday morning that grew to around 10,000 by mid morning. Most were west of Interstate 25, the agency said.

By 10 a.m., power had been restored to about 3,000 customers, Colorado Springs Utilities spokesman Jay Anderson said. "Our electric troubleshooters and cable technicians are in full deployment to focus on power restoration efforts and also our construction crews have been deployed as needed to assist with these restoration efforts."

Around 7 a.m., the National Weather Service in Pueblo had forecast wind gusts of 60 to 80 miles per hour throughout the day in the southern mountains and I-25 corridor, where a high wind warning is in effect. The agency also said maximum gusts could reach 100 miles per hour.

Much of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico region could also see multiple days of blowing dust with some localized red flag warnings, including in the San Luis Valley, Otero and Baca counties, as well as eastern Las Animas County. A red flag warning indicates that conditions are right for the start and rapid spread of wildfires.