"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Colorado Springs Waldo Canyon Fire Out of Control Threatens Air Force Academy

UPDATE:  Latest News from the Denver Post 06/28:

COLORADO SPRINGS — Mayor Steve Bach told a morning news conference, "we know hundreds of homes have been destroyed" by the Waldo Canyon Fire. 
He said the city is in the process of assessing the areas where homes burned and plans to notify owners on an individual basis starting at noon Thursday. He said officials would be "methodical and careful" in notification. 
Some 32,000 people remain out of their homes in and around Colorado Springs. An aerial photograph of the Mountain Shadows neighborhood taken Wednesday shows approximately 300 homes, all of them inside the Colorado Springs city limits, reduced to charred rubble.

The fire started June 23 and has grown to 18,500 acres. The blaze's cause is not known, and the FBI has joined the investigation. 
Read more: Colorado wildfire: Waldo Canyon Fire officials confirm "hundreds" of homes destroyed - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/wildfires/ci_20962119/colorado-wildfire-waldo-canyon-fire-officials-confirm-hundreds#ixzz1z7XJrG4j  

Some before and after photos of a Mountain Shadows neighborhood from the Denver Post:

There are more before and after pictures at the Denver Post which shows how devastating this Waldo Canyon Fire has been to the residents of Colorado Springs and surrounding areas.  Latest estimate of the number of homes destroyed is 300 according to news reports out of Colorado.  Today's winds are not as heavy and the temps have dropped about five degrees from yesterday but the latest report still has only 5% containment.  Over 30,000 evacuees and the fire is still burning out of control.  He came to the edge of the AF Academy burning about 10 acres but did not destroy any structures as of this afternoon.  The cadet area at the Academy is not near the fire although there have been evacuations from some of the Academy housing areas.

The Waldo Canyon Fire is threatening not only Colorado Springs and surrounding towns but residences of the Air Force Academy.  This video shows how damaging this out of control fire has become:

COLORADO SPRINGS — Tens of thousands of people fled the neighborhoods north and west of Colorado Springs after the Waldo Canyon fire unleashed waves of flames late Tuesday afternoon. 
Showers of ash fell as traffic gridlocked on Interstate 25 and all major eastbound roadways, clogged full of evacuees and fire equipment. Witnesses flooded the Internet on Twitter, describing the scene as "an apocalypse" and "terrifying" and posting photos of the city wrapped in a sinister orange and black cloud. 
The evacuations covered the entire area north of Garden of the Gods and west of I-25, including Pinon Valley, Rockrimmon and Woodmen valley, home to thousands of residents. The Pine Valley housing area south of the Air Force Academy was evacuated and, about 7:30 p.m., more of the academy itself was ordered evacuated.

Read more: Colorado wildfire: 32,000 people evacuated in Waldo Canyon fire - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20940351/colorado-wildfire-waldo-canyon-fire-near-colorado-springs#ixzz1z0u9qclV 

Without the foresight of the Colorado Springs community as well as communities surrounding them this would be even worse as they had a plan in place in case something like this happened.  I realized how bad it was last night when on Twitter there was a picture of the AF Academy football stadium and on the ridge above the Academy you could see the flames and then the smoke shooting sky high.  

After visiting family in Denver right after Christmas, we traveled to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, AZ, driving I-25 through Colorado Springs and by the AF Academy.  What we noticed was a lack of snow in the Pike's Peak area and the lower mountains.  There wasn't even any along I-25 which seemed odd compared to past years.  We didn't see a lot of snow on the side of the road until we got closer to NM which means that area of Colorado missed the blizzard that had gone across New Mexico.  

The latest class of cadets are reporting to the AF Academy this week who are going through in-processing and orientation.  If this gets much closer, you have to wonder if the new cadets are also going to be evacuated.  The AF Academy older cadets in the summer get leave and then go to camps on Air Force bases around the Country to get a close up view of the active duty Air Force.  Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, for years has hosted cadets from the Academy in the summer.

This area needs rain desperately to get this fire under control as last night you could see houses going up in flames on the ridge in a report from a reporter on a bluff overlooking the city.  It is scary to realize that you need to decide what you will take with you as you evacuate.  Living in an area where fires could break out, you need a plan on what to take.  

When we lived in the foothills in San Bernardino County off I-10, we had a plan -- first was the family and pets, second was family pictures, third was one box for each of our three children of their most precious items, then the paintings and other wall hangings, etc.  We had a truck and a station wagon all set with what to pack if we needed to evacuate.  When fire season would start, the downstairs closet under the stairs was filled with items that meant so much to our family that could be loaded up in minutes.  We never had to evacuate but we had ash all over our sidewalks and back patio the day the moving truck was loaded due to a transfer.  As the movers unloaded the boxes in MA, there was still ash on some of them.  Several years ago a fire came within two streets of where we used to live.  

Our first responders are so important in fighting these wildfires burning across the west.  Those fireman on the fire lines risk their lives fighting these giant forest fires because they never know when the wind is going to shift.  The police are the first ones in to evacuate people from their homes going door to door to make sure everyone gets out and then man the checkpoints which could easily put them in harm's way.  This Country owes so much to the men and women who are involved as fire and police who protect the rest of us.  We need more firefighters and police not less.  The Federal Government at all levels should be taking an active role in ensuring that the National Forest Service has the firefighters and the equipment necessary to fight these fires and have it available immediately.  

The Indian tribes here in Oklahoma and other states have firefighters who have been through the training in addition to having many hours of actual experience fighting forest fires as every summer they are called upon to help fight these fires.  Our military has specially designed planes to be used to fight these fires along with the helicopters  It is a joint operation of some of the bravest people in our Country to fight these fires to save lives and property.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the western states that are on fire right now and sincerely hope the prayers for rain and calming winds come are answered quickly.  

1 comment:

SJ Reidhead said...

Without sounding heartless, the photo of the fire nearing the academy puts it much farther than the inferno was to my parents' last year. Fire goes down hill much slower. That's good. There is some flat land past the ridge, which is good. It has been cleared. That is very good. There is enough room for them to come in and create a backfire.

There is nothing more terrifying than watching that fire clear the last ridge toward your home. Been there, done that, had it come 100 yards to my complex. Not fun at all. Got some great photos, though.


The Pink Flamingo