Friday, June 29, 2012

Another body found; tours begin Sunday of damaged homes

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 6:02 PM

Colorado Springs Waldo Canyon Fire
  • Courtesy Fountain Fire Department
  • A scene shot by a firefighter during the Tuesday night fight in Mountain Shadows.

A second body was found today in a home on Rossmere Street in Mountain Shadows, Springs Police Chief Pete Carey said at a media briefing this afternoon. He did not identify either the latest victim or the other victim, whose death was announced last night, despite saying officials had spoken with the family. Carey also gave the address as 2910 Rossmere.

Those are the only fatalities reported in a fire that destroyed 346 homes on Tuesday as the Waldo Canyon Fire swooped into the city.

Residents of the affected area will get their first close-up look at their homes on Sunday when the city begins giving residents tours of the area. The tours are for those citizens whose homes were involved in the blaze.

City director of economic vitality Steve Cox told the media at the same briefing that 4,000 people live in the affected area, and buses can only carry 30 at a time, so the city has a logistical coordination issue on its hands.

Others who have been evacuated whose homes aren't damaged might have to wait awhile to get back home, because Colorado Springs Utilities has a lot of work to do in restoring gas to the 4,200 homes that were cut off during the fire, Utilities CEO Jerry Forte said.

"This is still a very active fire," Forte said. While Utilities workers were at first allowed to get back into the area earlier today, they were pulled off again this afternoon, he added.

The delay in letting residents return is related to the time it takes for utility crews to inspect and ensure the integrity of the system, he said. "We have to go house to house to be sure there are no gas leaks. That's going to take some time."

He gave no estimate when that job might be completed, and said Utilities might have to repair big portions of the gas system.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Jerri Marr said the fire, which stands at roughly 16,750 acres, is 25 percent contained and noted firefighters are making progress. Air tankers continue to pound the fire's edges.

When a reporter asked why Mayor Steve Bach's staff had told residents at a meeting Thursday night not to speak to the media, Bach and Cox denied they had said that.

"I tried that," Bach joked. "It doesn't work."

Cox said nobody told homeowners they couldn't speak to the media and, in fact, told homeowners where the media was located outside the meeting room so they could seek them out if they wanted to.

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