On June 25, the Waldo Canyon Fire in El Paso County had reached 3,446 acres with no containment. Areas of Woodland Park south of Safeway to the county line from Edlowe Road to Rampart Range Road are under a pre-evacuation notice.
Woodland Park Mayor Dave Turley stated in an email that city officials are working closely with local law enforcement and the Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District. If the winds shift and evacuation becomes necessary, alerts will be sent out via Nixle, the El Paso Teller E911 emergency notification system and social media.
Citizens are encouraged to register their cellphones and email addresses with www.Nixle.com and their cellphones, landlines and email addresses with the E911 system, www.elpasoteller911.org, to receive updates and notifications.
So far, firefighting crews have held the fire at bay at Green Mountain Falls and Chipita Park, which, along with Cascade, are under mandatory evacuation. U.S. 24 from Cave of Winds to Crystola will remain closed until further notice.
The Red Cross has set up an evacuation center at Summit Elementary School in Divide. Large animals can be taken to the Teller County Fairgrounds in Cripple Creek. The U.S. Postal Service announced that residents of the evacuated Ute Pass communities can pick up their mail at the Tamarac Post Office in Woodland Park.
In a news conference on June 25, Turley assured city residents that the city has good lines of communications with Incident Command Center in Colorado Springs through the Teller County Sheriff’s Office.
He said with two good alternate routes into the city, gasoline and groceries deliveries are still coming in.
“We’re sitting pretty good right now,” he said. “Our citizens are keeping an eye on the situation.”
As for the 20 or more suspicious fires that have been discovered in the county in the last week, the sheriff’s office is investigating. “There were no suspicious fires up here yesterday so that’s good news,” Turley said.
The Waldo Canyon Fire was discovered in rough terrain at about 1 p.m. June 23. The fire was about 150 acres in size when discovered but quickly jumped in size to 1,200 the first day. The fire is on the Pike National Forest but it has come close to Colorado Springs, prompting mandatory evacuation both to the east of the fire and to the south and the communities located along U.S. 24 in Ute Pass. Colorado Springs officials said that because the fire is so close to a major metropolitan area, it has been declared the number one priority in the state, despite the large number of other fires being fought in the state.
A type 1 incident command unit from the U.S. Forest Service took over control of firefighting activities on June 25 and more than 600 firefighters were expected to be on scene later that day. High temperatures, low humidity and erratic winds are hampering firefighting efforts. Whenever winds rise above 35 miles an hour, officials said air support will be grounded.
An investigation has begun but investigators have not been able to get to the fire’s starting point.
For information about the fire, visit http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2929/ or call 719-629-7322.
For alternate routes to or from Colorado Springs, citizens are urged to check the Colorado Department of Transportation travel information website, www.cotrip.org or call 511.