Black Forest fire still 0 percent contained, remains near 8,000 acres

Black Forest fire still 0 percent contained, remains near 8,000 acres

12 June 2013

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USA — The Black Forest Fire is “far from being under control,” but does not appear to have grown overnight.

According to officials at a news conference Wednesday, the fire is still estimated at 7,500-8,000 acres. It is 0 percent contained. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said that a fire line along the south and southeast sides of the fire did appear to hold overnight, but that officials did not feel comfortable labeling any part of the fire contained.

An exact number of homes destroyed was not released Wednesday; Maketa acknowledged houses were lost, but said they were still assessing the damage. At this time, the status of individual properties is not available.

With winds expected to pick up later Wednesday afternoon, Maketa stressed the fire’s behavior could prove unpredictable later. Firefighters have spent Wednesday morning creating “defensive positions” to get ready for the wind.

“The fire is challenging because it began in essentially a residential area,” one official said Wednesday when asked how it compared to last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire. He explained that the Black Forest Fire started near homes and then was carried to “higher density property” by the winds.

There are currently no new evacuations, but officials say that those who are evacuated should not expected to return to their homes until Thursday at the absolute earliest.

Fatalities are unknown at this time. Maketa said that there have been no confirmed deaths, but that he fears people took their chances and it may have cost them their lives.

“We could be facing a tragedy that involves people. Let’s hope that’s not the case,” he said.

The next press conference will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Important information for people affected by the fire is listed below:

Mandatory Evacuation: from Tahosa to Eastonville and Hodgen to Burgess. Includes Goodson Rd. east to Eastonville Rd., Ayer Rd. south to Rex Rd.

The Pre-Evacuation areas:

Latigo Blvd. south to Stapleton Dr. / Meridian Rd. east to Hwy 24.
Burgess Rd. south to Stapleton Dr. / Volmer Rd. east to Meridian Rd.
Guy Ranch Rd. south to Stapleton Dr. / Eastonville Rd. east to Elbert Rd.
Burgess Rd. south to Old Ranch Rd & Poco Rd. / Milam Rd. east to Vollmer Rd.

If you live in these areas, incident command suggests that you leave now, and not wait for a mandatory evacuation notice.

The City of Colorado Springs has sent emergency response resources to aid El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in responding to a wildland fire in Black Forest.

The Colorado Springs Police Department has also dispatched officers to assist. El Paso County Sheriff is the lead responding agency.

Red Cross is opening a shelter at Palmer Ridge High School – 19255 Monument Rd, Monument.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office provided the following information for residents:

“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.

What to do

Families & Individuals – Refine your evacuation plan

• Decide where you will go. Learn the location of any Red Cross shelters that have been opened.
• Decide what route you will travel to reach safety.
• Pack the supplies you, and your pets, will need to sustain your quality of life for up to two weeks.
• Pack the important records or special belongings you will need to take with you.
• Decide where to meet if family members are separated.
• Ask someone outside the area to serve as your family contact point.
• Consider moving important family records, family heirlooms, and property (motorcycles, extra vehicles, etc.) to a safe location.
• Consider moving large animals to a safe location, such as a friend’s property or a large animal shelter.
• Since power outages are common during many emergencies, learn ahead of time how to disconnect your automatic garage door opener and open the door manually.
• Consider plugging a traditional land-line telephone directly into a phone jack in your home. When power is lost, traditional phone lines will still let you send/receive calls.
• If you have not yet done so, register your cell phone to receive emergency notifications: NOTE: New registrations may need up to 24 hours to take effect. Never rely on emergency telephone notifications as your only source of information.
• Cell phone service may be interrupted or diminished during emergencies due to high call volumes. Consider text messaging or use of social media to communicate with family members.
• Stay connected to a source of official information (TV, radio, or Internet) to be immediately alerted if conditions should change.

Persons with access, functional or medical needs, do all of the above plus:
• Arrange for any specialized transportation or help that you will need to evacuate.
• Pack your medical equipment, specialized supplies, and medications.
• If you have not yet done so, call 2-1-1 to add your name to the Emergency Evacuation Registry. This confidential and secure system lists persons who cannot evacuate without assistance. You will be asked only about your transportation needs, not about your medical condition.

Residential Healthcare Facilities:

• Confirm availability of specialized transportation.
• Review facility evacuation plans.
• Review continuity of operation plans.

Other Businesses & Organizations:
• Develop a roster or checklist to account for all employees.
• Review facility evacuation plans.
• Review continuity of operations plans.

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