COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado Springs Fire Chief Rich Brown was succinct at an evening news conference Tuesday: “This is a firestorm of epic proportions.”
As of 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, the number of homes lost remains untold as the Waldo Canyon Fire ripped passed first and secondary containment lines and into the city of Colorado Springs Tuesday night. But with the flames exploding and the number of mandatory evacuations growing from 12,000 to 32,000 overnight, the number of lost homes is expected to be large.
A quick scan of the El Paso County Police scanner was equally grim: “Another home is up in flames,” one voice said at 4:33 a.m. The first press conference is scheduled for 8 a.m. Expect a better picture of the number of homes lost and threatened then.
The Air Force Academy has been added to the list of evacuees — the first time the Academy has ever issued a mass evacuation. The Air Force closed its two residential areas and directed a base closure for normal operations Wednesday.
“Only mission essential personnel and personnel in direct support of cadet activities such as in-processing and student academics should plan to report for duty,” the Air Force said on its Facebook page.
Additional evacuations late Tuesday included Pinon Valley leading up to the Air Force Academy, Kissing Camels and Holland Park.
The fire was bearing down on the large residential neighborhoods of Mountain Shadows, Perefrine and Rockrimmon Wednesday morning. Mother Nature could help with a Flash Flood Watch for the burn area currently being issued for Wednesday afternoon. However, there is also a Red Flag Warning for most of the day, which could be equally harmful.
Fore additional information, the El Paso County Sheriff’s office has set up a mobile app that can be downloaded here.