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Waldo Canyon Fire 55 percent contained

A smoke column from the Waldo Canyon Fire on June 26. Photo courtesy Adam Drake/InciWeb.org.

Some residents able to visit their neighborhoods to survey damage; Highway 24 re-opens

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Firefighters say they’ve been able to more than halfway contain the deadly Waldo Canyon Fire, a blaze that will go down in history as Colorado’s single most destructive wildfire.

The fire started June 23, three miles west of Colorado Springs. Three days later, it exploded eastward toward the city, killing two people, destroying 346 homes and requiring the evacuation of 32,000 people.

By Sunday afternoon, incident commander Rich Harvey said the 17,827-acre fire was 55 percent contained and announced the re-opening of Highway 24, a major transportation route into the central mountains. Continue reading

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Colorado: Waldo Canyon Fire toll at 349 homes

Fire now estimated to be 15 percent contained

Waldo Canyon Fire map, June 28, 2012.

Waldo Canyon Fire, June 28, 2012.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado Springs officials Thursday said the Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed a total of 347 structures when the flames raced into the city’s western suburbs Tuesday night.

Most of the destroyed homes were in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, where firefighters stood little chance against a wall of fire driven by wind gusts of up to 65 mph.

As of Thursday evening, the fire was estimated to be about 15 percent contained at 16,750 acres. with a focus on containing spotfires north of Rampart Ridge Reservoir.

As winds abated and humidity increased Thursday, crews were able to secure the Cedar Heights area and quell the chance of house-to-house fires in areas where destroyed homes continued to smolder.

Favorable weather conditions also enabled a direct attack on the flames on all fronts. The full update is available at www.inciweb.org.

 

Colorado: Waldo Canyon Fire triggers mass evacuations

Firefighters trying to keep fire north of Highway 24

The first official map of the Waldo Canyon Fire released via InciWeb.org.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The 2,000-acre Waldo Canyon Fire, west of Colorado Springs, is moving at about .25 to .5 miles per hour, and is expected to move toward the northeast today with prevailing winds out of the southwest.

Real-time information is streaming on Twitter at the #WaldoCanyonFire hashtag, and from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at @EPCSheriff, as well as @springsgov.

Officials announced at 9:55 a.m. that Highway 24 westbound is closed.

With the fire burning close to busy Highway 24, emergency officials ordered new evacuations south of the highway in several neighborhoods. The entire town of Manitou Springs, with about 6,200 residents, has been evacuated. along with surrounding subdivisions in the nearby foothills.

In total, about 10,000 people are under mandatory evacuation orders.

“We anticipate movement to the northeast today,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Greg Huele said, explaining that 400 firefighters on-scene won’t attack the main fire directly, but will focus on protecting structures where they can.

Huele said the fire activity intensified Saturday night at about 10 p.m.

“It picked back up and gained some speed, but crews held the line to keep the fire from moving too far east,” he said. “We’re having a difficult time to locate and establish an anchor point,” he said, adding that the flames have burned to within a quarter mile of structures in the area.

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said the evacuations are proceeding in an orderly way.

“It’s a time to be calm and a time to be vigilant,” Bach said.

When a wildfire is close to a major city and threatens property and homes, the speed at which people can acquire information about where the fire is becomes critical. Aerial images from Infrared cameras are often not available to anyone except the fire operations commanders, so other resources may be utilized to approximate the location of these wildfire incidents.
To create this generalized image, data was acquired from the NOAA Satellite and Information Service and carefully plotted into a GIS. These points were combined to create an approximate area that is threatened by the wildfire. In previous usage of this method, the correlation between the aggregated area and the actual IR fire boundaries was on the order of 86% of accurate coverage.
Map courtesy Mark Newby. Click to visit the map on Newby’s Black Ice Geospatial website.

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