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The Waldo Canyon Fire burning on the west side of Colorado Springs remains at 5% containment this morning although the fire has increased in size to 15,517 acres. A total of 764 firefighters remain on scene. Yesterday fire crews fought to save the U.S. Air Force Academy and residents begged for information on the fate of their homes. More than 30,000 people frantically packed up belongings on Tuesday night after the fire barreled into neighborhoods in the foothills west and north of Colorado Springs. The full scope of the 24-square-mile fire remains unknown. The flames were so intense and the smoke so thick that rescue workers were not able to tell residents which structures were destroyed and which ones were still standing. Colorado Springs Fire Chief Rich Brown insisted that his personnel heroically saved many homes in the midst of the firestorm. Meanwhile, the White House said yesterday that President Barack Obama will tour the fire-stricken area tomorrow and will thank firefighters who are battling some of the worst fires to hit the American west in decades.
Fire danger continues to rise in the Upper Rio Grande Basin as temperatures remain high and the relative humidity stays low. The risk of a large wild land fire has increased even further from recent human activity. Ten of the twelve fires that the San Luis Valley Interagency Fire Unit has responded to this summer have been human caused. Recently, four human-caused fires have occurred along roads in the South Fork area where there is a great risk of damage to property. Fortunately, the South Fork Volunteer Fire Department has responded quickly to contain and extinguish these fires while they were still small. The SLV Public Lands Center requests that everyone take extra precaution to prevent a human-caused wild land fire by abiding by the stage II fire restrictions issued earlier this week. Additionally, the public lands center asks that people report any suspicious activity that may lead to a wild land fire to their local sheriff’s department by calling 911. Ten years ago, the human-caused Million Fire burned over 9,000 acres, destroyed 11 homes and damaged six others. Please help prevent that from happening again.
The 90th Annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb scheduled for July 8th has been postponed due to the raging wildfire in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area and will be made up later this summer. The nation’s second-oldest motor sports race behind the Indianapolis 500 will have a new date set within a time frame that allows the option of rescheduling of a new race week for drivers, racers, support crews and agencies that are required to support the race. All race week events, including the technical inspections and the July 6th Fan Fest in downtown Colorado Springs are also on hold. The goal for race organizers is to announce the replacement date within two weeks.
The South Central Council of Governments main offices in Trinidad and Walsenburg, Early Learning Center, Harry Sayre Senior Center Kitchen, Meals on Wheels and all outlying nutrition sites will be closed on Wednesday, July 4th, in observance of the fourth of July. Transit in Trinidad and Walsenburg will be limited for the entire day. Anyone interested in a ride on Wednesday, July 4th, or Thursday, July 5th, should call the Rideline at 719-845-1127 no later than 3:30pm on Tuesday, July 3rd.
The Huerfano County Board of County Commissioners yesterday amended the stage one fire restrictions for unincorporated areas of Huerfano County. In addition to the stage one fire restrictions already in place, commissioners have added not to allow any campfires or open burning of any kind with the exception of propane grills if they can be shut off with a knob or switch. Charcoal grills are now prohibited. Also prohibited is the operating of a chainsaw, blasting, welding or other activities that generate flame. Huerfano County Sheriff’s deputies have also been instructed to aggressively pursue anyone who is using fireworks.