Homes destroyed in Colorado Springs area due to devastating fire
By Dan Wooding
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (ANS) – The devastating fire that has been raging near to Colorado Springs, Colorado, base to many Christian ministries, has destroyed hundreds of homes and seen some 32,000 people being evacuated because of the danger of the fire.
The fire rages on Pike’s Peak
But now has come a report from residents who say that things are getting a little better.
Rick Wood, editor of Mission Frontiers magazine, and his wife, Lorena, have just released a message in which they said, “The fire situation in Colorado Springs has improved significantly over the last 24 hours. The firefighters said they had a good day of firefighting yesterday and the maps indicate the fire did not gain much new territory.
“The temperatures were down, humidity was up and the winds were calm. No new areas in Colorado Springs are under mandatory evacuation. The fire was not advancing further east into the city. It appears that it is advancing further west and north on the other side of the ridge away from Colorado Springs. There is still one neighborhood on the west side of Colorado Springs that is still being threatened by the flames.”
Still, for many, the nightmare has continued in Colorado Springs – the state’s second most populous city — and the surrounding areas, with hundreds of homes destroyed and more than 32,000 people being forced to leave their homes because of the fire.
The devastating fire destroyed many homes
“The blaze, which began Saturday, remains at just 5% contained, according to the daily update from the scene. As of Thursday morning, 18,500 acres have burned – up from the 13,500 reported Wednesday,” said Michael Muskal of the Los Angeles Times.
He went on to say, “On Tuesday, the damage was at 6,200 acres until fierce winds more than doubled the burn area overnight, prompting the evacuations; among those evacuated were thousands of people from the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“The Waldo Canyon fire is just one of several burning in Colorado and in several other Western states. But the fire in Colorado Springs has been one of the fastest-moving and remains unrestrained.”
He added that in Boulder, the Flagstaff fire, about 1.5 miles outside the city, remains a threat, but less so than earlier in the week. Officials said that about 300 acres have burned and that the fire was about 30% contained.
“We are in much better shape today,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle told reporters Thursday.
The state’s largest fire, the High Park fire, about 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado, was about 75% contained. More than 87,200 acres have been consumed since the fire began June 9. Full containment is expected around July 15.
In their message, the Wood’s also states that it wasn’t all good news from the area.
A house goes up in flames
“It is reported that over 300 homes were lost Tuesday afternoon and evening to the ‘epic firestorm’ pushed by 60 mile per hour winds. There was no way for firefighters to make a stand without being killed themselves so they retreated and came back in later to save what they could and put out spot fires.
“For those who know Colorado Springs, the Flying W. Ranch was lost during this firestorm. There is one church very close to this area that has hosted Perspectives classes which at the moment appears to have survived the flames.
“For Lorena and I, the main issue has been the smoke and how it has affected her. We have seriously considered leaving. Pray for wisdom as to what we should do.”
They added, “Pray for continued calm winds. Pray for significant rain without lightning. Pray also that God would bring revival to the people of this city as a result of these events.”
Journalist Allison J. Althoff, in a report about the situation, said that although the wildfire has more than doubled in size, most of Navigators’* buildings in the area are reportedly “untouched so far.”
Glen Eyrie Castle
She quoted Navigators’ chief communications officer Gary Cantwell, when referring to their Glen Eyrie property, as saying, “We don’t currently have access to the camp, the Glen, or the headquarters buildings, but initial reports claim none of the structures have been touched. We don’t feel like it’s over – the fire tends to pop up in odd places. But, at this point, everything’s safe.”
Althoff then wrote, “Flames currently surround Eagle Lake Camp on all sides, but sources on the ground claim the horses have been corralled, firefighters are holding the lines, and only one cabin has been consumed. All campsites have been evacuated since Saturday afternoon.”
She added that Navigators are currently running “essential operations” out of Focus on the Family’s offices.
“The body of Christ really sprang to life here,” she quoted Cantwell as saying. “When we evacuated Saturday night, we had several different churches open their doors right away. Dozens of our staff people have been displaced from their homes, and we’re currently operating from Focus on the Family’s headquarters. They’ve been fantastic.”
Althoff said that no official numbers have been released as to how many structures have burned, but Flying W Ranch, an off-site event destination for past Evangelical Press Association conventions, is reportedly “a total loss.”
“Things are surreal and somewhat chaotic here,” EPA president Dean Ridings stated in a press release on Wednesday afternoon. “My family is among some 32,000 who have evacuated.… We’re trusting in the Lord, grateful that there have been no reported deaths or even injuries. There’s a strong sense of unity that ‘we’re all in this together.’”
Althoff concluded by saying that officials say the fire won’t likely be contained before mid-July, as it has consumed over 15,000 acres and high winds pose a significant challenge to workers on the ground. Smoke hangs densely over Colorado Springs, and homes that have not been directly affected by flame are likely to have incurred smoke damage.
“Our hope is not in buildings – the Navigators are not a bunch of buildings,” Cantwell said. “We’re people who care about people. That’s what our ministry’s all about.”
* The Navigators is an international, interdenominational Christian ministry established in 1933. Navigators are people who love Jesus Christ and desire to help others know and grow in Him as they “navigate” through life.