Wildfire Forces Scout Troop to Evacuate Colorado Camp

Wildfire Forces Scout Troop to Evacuate Colorado Camp

26 June 2013

published by www.nbcdfw.com

USA — The motto of the Boy Scouts of America is “Be Prepared.”

Fort Worth’s Boy Scout Troop 18 adhere to that motto – a raging wildfire forced them to evacuate their Colorado camp within a minute’s notice on the night of June 19.

“I feel we were very prepared; us, and the staff that ran the camp,” said Paul Taylor, assistant scout master with Troop 18.

Taylor, two other adults and 11 boys were attending the Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch last week, along with more than 200 other scouts and adults from around the country.

Smoke and flames from the massive East Peak fire became visible across the ridge from the scout camp. Soon after, sirens sounded and it was time to leave.

“It was a bit shocking at first because the fire didn’t seem that big at first,” said Jacob Taylor, 11, one of the Fort Worth scouts in attendance. “But then later when we were driving away we could see the huge column of smoke. And we heard the firefighters even had to evacuate after we did.”

The East Peak fire has burned more than 13,000 acres and forced several evacuations near the Colorado community of Walsenburg. The fire is now considered to be 50 percent contained.

It has not been safe enough for the people who run the camp to return and survey the damage, according to Taylor.

Taylor said the belief is the camp is a total loss. The scouts and the adults fled with only the clothes on their backs, leaving clothes and camping supplies behind.

Video shot by assistant Scout Master Bill Bronson shows the boys walking down a mountain path toward their waiting cars, as smoke starts to fill the sky. The video also shows emergency vehicles making their way up the path, and the efforts of volunteers to coordinate a relief response at a shelter set up at a high school.

Troop 18 stayed that night at the high school before returning to Fort Worth the following day.

“Looking back, my most joyful thing is that I did not have to call a kid’s mom or dad and tell them something happened to their child while under my care,” Paul Taylor said. “Most important thing is we’re all safely back here in Fort Worth, Texas.”

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