Skip to comments.Black Forest Fire: I-25 impacted by more evacuations; 360 homes & 15,000 acres burned
Posted on 06/13/2013 3:14:33 PM PDT by beaversmom
EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - Colorado's most destructive fire continues to roar through the heavily wooded neighborhoods in Black Forest, and is heading toward the city of Colorado Springs, prompting officials yet again to expand the mandatory evacuation zone Thursday afternoon, now to include parts of the city of Colorado Springs.
The newest evacuations impact 1,020 homes and 3,000 people. Officials say University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will open as a shelter for evacuees within the hour.
The Colorado State Patrol also said at 2:30 p.m. that through traffic on northbound and southbound Interstate 25 from Interquest Parkway to Baptist Road should use the left lane. The right lane will be reserved for evacuees and emergency vehicles.
At 1:45 p.m. the city of Colorado Springs issued a mandatory evacuation order for:
- 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
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office expanded its mandatory evacuation order:
- West to Sunhills Dr and Granby Rd
- North to Baptist Road including Fox Run Park
(See evacuation map below or click here if you're on mobile: http://ch7ne.ws/10agjgQ)
-- Fire destroys 360 homes, is rapidly growing --
Flare-ups started in the fire zone around 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
7NEWS reporter Eric Lupher was with animal rescue crews in the burn zone when they were told to leave.
"We're getting out. Just got a phone call that fire is blowing up. Unsafe to stay," Lupher tweeted.
The flare-up happened just three hours after the El Paso County Sheriff announced the fire had destroyed 360 homes.
Maketa said they expected high temperatures and high winds to be a problem today.
"We are watching the weather conditions very closely," Maketa said. "The wind is probably our No.1 threat. The winds yesterday really stirred the fire and pushed it in quite a few different directions. We saw the fire travel quite a bit and saw quite a bit of devastation from it."
There is a Red Flag Warning for the area Thursday, said 24/7 Chief Meteorologist Mike Nelson.
The fire has destroyed 360 homes and 14 other homes have been partially damaged, Maketa said during a Thursday morning briefing. Maketa said homes at 79 other addresses could not be verified because of downed trees and fire activity.
"Those numbers are pretty staggering," Maketa said. "Homes we knew were standing yesterday I personally witnessed going down last night."
-- View a complete list of the homes lost: http://ch7ne.ws/150n3dx
Maketa said about 20 deputies worked in dangerous conditions throughout the night to reverify that list.
"I know of two or three occasions where we actually had to pull our units out because they were getting trapped with the activity from this fire," Maketa said.
Last years Waldo Canyon Fire had been the most destructive fire in Colorado history with 346 homes lost. That fire started June 23, 2012 and evacuations peaked at 32,000 on June 27, 2012. The Waldo Canyon Fire, also in the Colorado Springs area, burned 18,247 acres.
Maketa said the Black Forest Fire has now burned 15,000 acres. There is no containment.
The evacuation area also expanded early Thursday morning to cover more than 38,000 people.
"We do have a very broad evacuation area," Maketa said. "That area to the north and what you're seeing coming out of Douglas County and Elbert County is precautionary because of the fact of the way the winds are expected to blow. We just want to take every precaution to keep citizens safe at this point."
Investigators have already begun work to determine how the fire started. Maketa said arson investigators have started sifting through the ash and looking at burn patterns.
"[It's a] very exhaustive and time-consuming process," Maketa said.
Maketa did share some good news. He said 1,205 homes in the Black Forest area remain unaffected. Some of the homes are in the burn zone.
"We see where homes were lost, they were completely losses, and its series 6-8-10, and then you'll have one standing home," Maketa said.
-- Colorado Governor says faster response is needed --
Gov. John Hickenlooper talked to reporters at Palmer Lake High School, where many evacuees are staying. The governor said he met with many of the families, some who had lost their homes to the fire.
Hickenlooper said valuable lessons have already been learned in fighting Colorado wildfires.
"The one thing we learn again and again: the sooner we get to them, the faster we stop them," he said. "It's got to be faster, we have to figure out how to get resources to a fire -- if it means more trucks that first hour -- that's when we got a chance."
Hickenlooper said the fire was "everywhere" within four hours of its ignition.
"To constrain it, you need more vehicles and work crews."
He said air tankers hit the fire "faster than last year."
"All we can do is fight. We just don't quit," he said.
Wow, here we (or they) go again.
We live up north now but used to live in the Springs. It sounds like it is turning back towards the city? Or maybe expanding.
Very sad to see.
The damage is exceeding last year’s Waldo Canyon fire.
The air in Denver has been full of smoke since yesterday and was so bad yesterday afternoon some wondered if they could play the ball game due to visibility.
My wife’s cousin passed away the last Sunday in May. We went to the memorial serice on the 7th of June. Her husband’s home is in the crosshairs of this fire and less than a mile away. I cannot fathom where his thoughts are. Pray for him, we are!
Oh I’m so sorry for him. How awful.
I’m in the Springs and we’re having a windy day.
It was extremely thick up here yesterday. Winds must have changed as I’m not smelling it like yesterday...or I’m just getting used to it.
According to the article the fire was headed to the Springs proper, so it appears the wind changed. I have always thought the street system of a city would stop any wildland fire. I hope that’s right.
Yes, that makes sense.
Bummer. Good luck!
Thank you for your kind comments.
Even Fedex is warning of slowed deliveries because of
this fire. I’m expecting a package from out there.
New crossbow from PSE for this years deer hunting,
can’t pull my Reflex any more, shoulderitius.
Significantly south of you, right?
I will keep him in my prayers. His whole world must feel like it is collapsing.. I am so sorry to hear this.
From my contacts the lone part of Co Springs proper -- which was just underway for mandatory evac today -- is the furthest tip North of the city & is = with the lowest portion of Black Forest. Even tho this portion of Co Springs isn't heavily wooded, Black Forest to the East of it is...and the winds are blowing the flames that way.
Because of these winds...I'm told that the sections now at risk include not only the unburnt portions of Black Forest & that one section of Co Springs, but Glen Eagle North/NW of there, and then (eventually) the eastern portion of the community of Monument...and then the winds are supposed to re shift from the West tonight...meaning other parts of Black Forest, the northern portion of the community of Falcon -- and rural Elbert County -- will become at risk.
All total, this will push it well beyond 40,000 people under mandatory evac!
Also reports have emerged that there is a new fire 5 miles north of Cripple Creek in the mountains West of Co Springs...and part of the facilities of the Royal Gorge park were destroyed (not the bridge) in a separate fire West of Canon City.
I know it’s one family in the midst of a huge disaster, but I have wondered if the family of the murdered head of the Department of Corrections has been burned out.
It sounds like the entire Black Forest is going to burn. Horrible.
The wind is coming from the west on the Range now (quite a few miles northwest of the Springs here), so 24 to 9 to the resorts might be a good route for some. For others, if they can get safely to 67 at Woodland and go north to Santa Fe Dr. (85), that’s a long but nice way around traffic to the west Denver area.