Another post showed the heroics of the militarily minded, air-based firefighting personnel. Now come the ground troops from the Colorado Springs Fire Department. The video, shot Wednesday by department video specialist Steve Schopper, shows the restraint firefighters exercise in the face of approaching flames, and the strategy for letting the fire pass by, leaving the house intact. Pretty cool.
The military, and more specifically the U.S. Northern Command public-affairs office, is taking video from a variety of mostly first-person viewpoints and releasing them copyright-free to the public. They're very, very cool, with viewpoints shot from the Chinook helicopters dropping water from their Bambi Buckets; USAFA firefighters cutting lines, and a variety of other efforts. See the lot below:
"USAFA Assists Fighting the Black Forest Fire":
"Bambi Bucket Drop":
"Flight Over Black Forest Fire":
"Chinook Flight Over Black Forest Fire":
"Fort Carson Chinook Operations for Black Forest Fire":
"Aerial Footage From Inside a Chinook Fighting Black Forest Fire":
"Fort Carson Chinooks Assist with Black Forest Fire":
"USAFA Firefighters assist with Black Forest Fire":
"Supports Firefighting Efforts In Black Forest Fire":
ABBA Eye Care is offering the following to those affected by the fire and in need of sight succor:
• Single vision or FT bifocals in CR39 from our budget selection at N/C
• Frame upgrades from our regular frame selection at 50% off of retail
• Extras such as progressives, poly, Trivex, or high index, scratch coats and A/R at 50% off
• 2 pair of trial contact lenses instead of glasses if this is their primary means of vision correction
• If they don’t have current exam info available, we’ll provide an exam at 25% off, a basic exam, and 25% off a CL fitting if needed
• Fire fighters and police officers to receive complimentary eye exams and CL fittings if necessary
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is now open to those in need of a place to go. Evacuees should park in Lots 8 or 9.
Total, the American Red Cross has shelters at:
Black Forest Fire, Colorado Springs area
• Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Rd., Monument (109 individuals registered as of noon today)
• Elbert County Fairgrounds, 95 Ute Ave., Kiowa (346 individuals registered as of noon today)
• University of Colorado Colorado Springs Recreation Center, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs (Opening at 3 p.m.)
Royal Gorge Fire, Cañon City area
• Evangelical Free Church, 3000 E. Main St., Cañon City. (2 individuals checked in as of noon today.)
Downtown florist Springs in Bloom, at 318B E. Colorado Ave., will be loading a delivery van with food donations today at 4 p.m., and again every afternoon as long as needed, and running them over to Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado. They're looking for food, snacks, sunscreen, Chap Stick and batteries, most to be used by first responders.
A post on Care and Share's Facebook page says the organization has received some 102,000 pounds of food by 11 this morning, roughly two days into the fire. Good job, Colorado Springs.
Like thousands of others, she has been pre-evacuated from her home, which is in Woodmoor. If the fire crosses Highway 83, her home could quickly be in the path of the flames. But even if that happens, Davies says, she'll be there for the annual Starlight Spectacular this weekend.
The moonlit bike ride is TOSC's biggest annual fundraiser, with over 1,200 riders already registered. It's a lighthearted cruise where participants often dress up in costume or string their bikes with colorful lights. So far, Davies says it appears the air quality will allow for the ride, and the emergency personnel needed say they will have no problem attending. If that changes, the ride could be cancelled — safety first — but Davies thinks that's unlikely.
“We’re going to do it," she says, "[But] of course like any organization that has something going on this weekend we’re a little on the fence.”
Davies says she decided to try to go forward with Starlight because she feels like taking part in a community-minded event is a lot better than "if we sit home and are sad."
“Talking together, grieving together, bicycling together — that’s a healthy thing to do,” she says.
Riders are encouraged to bring donations for Care and Share Food Bank to the ride.
The Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau just issued a press release reminding people of its up-to-date website that lists available hotel rooms in close to real time.
"There are rooms currently available in Colorado Springs and the surrounding region," reads the release. "Inventory on the booking engine updates automatically. The CVB continues to be a resource for local residents and travelers to the region on attractions, lodging and transportation information through their fire information page www.VisitCOS.com/fireinfo."
Though most of the Black Forest Fire has remained in El Paso County, it's begun to cross city lines. So, the City of Colorado Springs issued a press release notifying the following northern neighborhoods to either mandatorily evacuate their homes, or be ready to do so.
MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER ISSUED FOR AREA A-1: NORTHERN PORTION OF CITY VOLUNTARY EVACUATION ZONE
Colorado Springs, Colo.—City officials have issued a Mandatory Evacuation Order effective immediately for the following area due to the Black Forest Fire.
Map here: City_Mandatory_Evac_Zone_A-1.pdf
Mandatory Evacuation Area A-1: Northern Boundary: North Gate and Old North Gate Road - Southern Boundary: Flying Horse Club Drive (to include homes south of Flying Horse Club Drive on Barossa Valley Road and Veneto Way)/Vine Cliff Heights/Equinox Drive/Serenity Peak Drive - Eastern Boundary: Highway 83 - Western Boundary: Voyager Parkway
Voluntary Evacuation Area A: West to I-25 and all areas north of Old Ranch Road within the City limits of Colorado Springs not included in Mandatory Evacuation Area A-1.
Media Notice: Office of Emergency Management Director Bret Waters, Police Chief Pete Carey, and Interim Fire Chief Tommy Smith will hold a 2 p.m. press conference at Pikes Peak Community College Rampart Campus.
A Mandatory Evacuation means that you are in immediate danger. Load your family and pets into your vehicle, and GO NOW. Once you have left the evacuation zone, you will not be allowed to re-enter until the danger has passed.
The Colorado Springs Police Department will continue to patrol the mandatory and voluntary evacuation zones to provide security for residents’ homes while they are out of the area.
Be sure to take essential items—medicine, special foods, personal items, baby supplies, clothing, money, and valuable papers — but do not overload your vehicle. Families are encouraged to take only one vehicle to avoid congesting the evacuation routes. Secure your home before you leave. Be sure to check on any neighbors who may need assistance. Consider texting to communicate with family members instead of phone calls as cellular service may be interrupted due to high call volumes. Don’t text and drive.
Residents with no means of transportation or who are physically unable to evacuate on their own, should ask a neighbor to assist them or call the following number: (719) 444-7000.
Residents who cannot stay with family or friends outside the evacuation area, go to one of the shelters listed below:
• Palmer Ridge High School- 19255 Monument Hill Rd, Monument
Small Animal Shelters:
• Powers Pet Emergency- Powers and Stetson Hills — Offering small animal assistance, medical & kennel. Ph (719) 473-0482
• Falcon Animal Hospital- Phone (719) 495-1457, is now accepting dogs and cats. Address: 860 Swing Line Road.
• Palmer Ridge High School 19255 Monument Hill Road Monument, CO 80132*
• Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region 610 Abbot Lane Colorado Springs, CO 80905
*If you are NOT staying with your pets at the Palmer Ridge High School shelter, you must bring your animals to Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region at 610 Abbot Lane. The Palmer Ridge High School shelter is set up for owners staying with their pets only.
Do not allow pet to run loose. If residents cannot make arrangements for your large animals the following places may be able to provide assistance:
Large Animal Shelters:
• Elbert County Fairgrounds (95 Ute Avenue, Kiowa, CO. 303-718-3343).
• El Paso County Fairgrounds in Calhan is now accepting evacuated large animals.
“BE READY!” If you are not in the current evacuation or pre-evacuation areas there is currently no immediate danger to your home, family, or business, but the fire is growing and may be moving toward you as weather and wind conditions change. Now is the time to get ready. Refine your evacuation plans, and gather the things you’ll need if you must evacuate.
It is imperative that all citizens stay away from all evacuated areas. Please do not stop in these areas for any reason as it can endanger evacuees and emergency personnel.
The troubled area on Colorado Avenue west of 31st Street variously known as “No Man’s Land” or “The Avenue” has kicked off a media and public awareness campaign aimed at discouraging people from giving to panhandlers.
We wrote about the campaign in the news story “Keep the change” on April 17. The campaign has been put together through the cooperation of the Avenue Task Force, neighborhood groups, Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Manitou Springs, and local businesses.
The Pikes Peak Community Foundation has announced that the barn-raising scheduled for this Saturday at Venetucci Farm has been postponed due to the Black Forest Fire. The farm will still be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., but all scheduled activities are on hold.
Instead, the PPCF will focus its energies on the new emergency relief fund created in the wake of the fire. And though similar to the one created last year for the Waldo Canyon Fire, the foundation says this year's version "has more flexibility to quickly respond to the community's needs."
Click here to learn more and/or to donate. "Contributions may be used to fund eligible costs for pressing needs such as emergency supplies and gas, as well as long-term restoration efforts," says a release from the foundation. "Fund disbursement will be overseen by a committee of local experts."
Last year, we brought you the tale of Bill Layton and other local restaurateurs banding together to feed firefighters, first responders and anyone else who needed it in the wake of the Waldo Canyon Fire.
And though the devastation of that event felt like it could never be repeated, the Black Forest Fire has now surpassed it as the most destructive wildfire in Colorado's history — and it's at zero-percent containment.
So, of course, Layton, Greg Howard at McCabe's Tavern and others are back at it again. Here's a sampling of Facebook posts:
Black Forest Honey owner and prominent local beekeeper John Hartley had left his house on Herring Road, north of Swan Road, Tuesday afternoon, headed for an errand at Phil Long Ford at Chapel Hills.
He didn't make it past Black Forest Regional Park before he was turned around and informed of the spreading Black Forest Fire.
His dog was with him, and he called his wife Donna, a local artist and muralist, to meet him back at the house.
Another beekeeper friend happened to be in the area and ducked in to check on the Hartleys, quickly helping them load some possessions into their vehicles — "papers and documents mostly, pictures and stuff," says John.
From the moment he'd been turned around to that hectic moment of fleeing, only an hour and a half had passed.
"We were lucky," says John, referring not only to getting out alive, but specifically being able to at least grab a few things, when many of his neighbors (with whom he's since talked from the nearby motel he's calling home) weren't able to grab anything.
The Hartleys had bought their home 30 years ago, in 1983. In ’89, John started launched Black Forest Honey.
He's since raised queens, become an active leader in the Pikes Peak Beekeepers club, done countless removals and captures of bee swarms, and grown his own hive count to around 165 recently.
At his home, he was forced to leave behind 35 hives that he's fairly certain all perished in the fire — each hive containing tens of thousands of bees — along with all of his beekeeping and removal equipment and a decent supply of new hive materials he stocked to sell other club members.
"I don't know — it's hard to tell if they swarmed out," he says. "That's the tendency when there's smoke, but the smoke was extremely bad and heavy. It was so fast and intense with the heat ...
"I just hoped and prayed that maybe they'd make it okay," he says. "It was my life, my wife's life — we got the dog ..."
Now, he or Donna are taking the time to regroup and begin organizing with their insurance companies. He says he has six months to decide whether to rebuild on that site or not. "We're gonna have to think about that," he says, "but we probably will."
This morning alone, John says, he fielded five swarm calls around the area that he had to refer to other club members. (Spring and early summer are the natural swarm times, when feral and managed hives tend to split at a maximum capacity.) Calling upon all the optimism today will allow him, he says, "We'll recover and come back. It's just a setback."
By now, we know that the Hartleys' is only one of at least 360 heartbreaking stories emerging from the Black Forest Fire. And nobody's attempting to equate the loss of bees here, and a livelihood at least temporarily, to the larger toll of home destruction and human displacement and trauma.
But to a guy like John Hartley, "It really hurts."
In light of the Black Forest Fire, the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region will host "Bootcamp: Disaster preparedness, planning and response" Mon., June 24 from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. The session will cover ways to protect yourself and help the community: "We will have tools for both artists and arts organizations and a panel of speakers to share what steps they've taken."
RSVP by June 21 to firstname.lastname@example.org or 634-2204 to attend.
County officials have confirmed that the El Paso County Disaster Assistance Center has opened as of this morning, at the Citizens Service Center, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road. Here's info on what's available at that site:
The Disaster Assistance Center will bring together representatives of major insurance companies, El Paso County Public Health, healthcare providers, the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, utilities providers, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Office of Emergency Management, grief counselors and local non-profits offering services to residents impacted by the Black Forest Fire.
“We learned from the Waldo Canyon Fire last year that citizens have a wide variety of needs,” said Commissioner Chair Dennis Hisey. “By bringing together state and local agencies and non-profit organizations with a lot of experience and expertise the Disaster Assistance Center can make a real difference.”
The Disaster Assistance Center will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice.
While they're still facing a "Red Flag Weather Warning, downed power lines, and active fire moving in stands of beetle killed trees" for Thursday, firefighters battling the Royal Gorge Fire can say they've got some containment.
Royal Gorge Fire reaches 20 percent containment
Key Facts as of 8:30 p.m.
· Fire size is estimated at 3,100 acres and 20 percent containment
· 20 structures have been lost
· The Royal Gorge Bridge is intact
The Royal Gorge Fire continues to burn west of Canon City in piñon and juniper forests. Fire behavior throughout the day was active with visible torching, spotting and running in heavy fuels.
All road closures and evacuations remain in place west of Canon City throughout the evening. Firefighters continue work to establish anchor points and build line around the fire. Road closures are in place to allow firefighters to operate safely in the area.
The Royal Gorge Rodeo grounds are available for those needing to shelter their livestock.
“We have made good progress on the fire today without any accidents or injuries thanks in large part to our many partners,” said Dennis Page, Incident Commander for the Royal Gorge Fire. “Crews from Canon City, Fremont County, and the State of Colorado are working alongside firefighters from the BLM and U.S. Forest Service.”
Some challenges firefighters will face Thursday include a Red Flag Weather Warning, downed power lines, and active fire moving in stands of beetle killed trees.
A Type 2 Incident Management Team will take command of the fire Thursday morning. The team is working on planning a community informational meeting for Thursday evening. Details will be provided in the Thursday morning informational briefing.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.