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  • Colorado Springs first testing ground for Fire Adapted Communities

    Wed, March 27, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    The Waldo Canyon fire provided the first case-study for Fire Adapted Communities, a U.S. Forest Service fire mitigation program, and the findings were released last week in a report.

    For Mountain Shadows and Cedar Heights residents, much of the study’s results will sound familiar–many homes were destroyed or damaged by embers, and home-to-home ignition was common in places where homes were packed closely together.

    Read the report here.   And check out this video about the Colorado Springs Fire Department’s Mitigation Section.

  • President Obama signs off on Emergency Watershed Protection money

    Wed, March 27, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Well, technically the President signed off on the overall federal budget Tuesday, set to see the government through the end of the fiscal year.

    But part of that budget are Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP)  program funds, $65.5 million of them,  some of which could come to Colorado to help repair watersheds damaged by the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires.

    But the saga of EWP is hardly over.  Next, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has to approve $17.6 million for Colorado, which will then be divided among Larimer, El Paso and Weld Counties.

    Check out this timeline of the EWP journey to and and through Congress.

  • City to release Waldo Canyon after action review during first week of April

    Thu, March 21, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    The city of Colorado Springs will release it’s comprehensive after action review of the Waldo Canyon fire sometime during the first week of April, said Cindy Aubrey, the city’s chief communications officer.

    A specific date for the report’s release has not yet been finalized, Aubrey said in an email on Thursday. The report will be city-wide, encompassing Police and Fire Departments, as well as the Office of Emergency Management. The review is  standard procedure, Aubrey said, and is not an investigation–instead, it will serve as a review of the city’s actions during the Waldo Canyon fire, which burned into the city and destroyed hundreds of homes in June.

    The review was proceeded by the city’s Initial After Action Review,  which was released in October.  The initial review offered a short timeline of the city’s involvement in the fire–mostly when a firestorm pushed the fire into city limits on June 26.

  • Long battle for watershed protection money comes to an end

    Thu, March 21, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    After months of lobbying and a leaping hurtles in the U.S. House and Senate, the fight for Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) finally came to an end on Thursday.

    Congress passed the continuing resolution, which includes in it $65.5 million set aside to help states like Colorado fund watershed restoration projects.  For local elected officials, it took months of lobbying and trips to Washington, D.C. to draw attention to their cause.

    Here’s a timeline of the push for EWP.

     

  • Fire Department gets 325 new brush shirts

    Wed, March 20, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    In the wildland firefighting world, few things say “experienced” like a thoroughly soiled brush shirt.

    Brand new fire-resistant brush shirts were recently handed out all firefighters in the Colorado Springs Fire Department–and they are bright yellow, usually the hallmark of a rookie, or someone who hasn’t yet been able to cover the shirt with the sweat, dirt and soot of a wildfire.

    The garb for fighting a wildfire is different from what one might find on the backs of structural fire fighters. It usually involves a bright yellow fire-resistant button-down shirt, and a pair of sturdy, fire-resistant pants.  The shirts and pants are lighter weight, and ideal for battling flames in extreme heat. And soiling the shirt during a wildfire can be a right of passage, firefighters say.

    In October, the fire department won a grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation for pay for 325 shirts for the entire department. The fire department has had the shirts for a while, but officially unveiled the acquisition on Wednesday, said Sunny Smaldino, a fire department spokeswoman. The shirts are worth more than $19,000.

    Even if the shirts are somewhat alarmingly yellow, firefighters are grateful to have them, Smaldino added.

    “They would rather have them bright and shinny, rather than have to deal with what we dealt with last year,” Smaldino said, referring to the Waldo Canyon fire.

  • No date set for opening forest burned by Waldo Canyon fire

    Wed, March 20, 2013 by Ryan Handy with 1 comment

    It’s spring, and Pikes Peak Region residents might be casting their eyes to the Waldo Canyon burn scar, wondering when the forest will open to the public after last summer’s devastating fire.

    But the fact is, representatives from United States Forest Service haven’t yet picked a date to open the scorched area.  But, by mid-April local forest officials hope to release more information about what sections of the Pike National Forest will open, said Barbara Timock, a forest service spokeswoman based in Pueblo.

    “We hope to have information about opening in mid-April,” Timock said in an email to The Gazette. ” There is no date yet for actually opening the area to public use.”

    Meanwhile, mountain bikers, hikers, and other outdoors enthusiasts have been denied access to Rampart Range Road and reservoir, as well as the Waldo Canyon trail, since the fire blazed through the area in June.

     

     

     

  • Free sandbags available to Colorado Springs residents

    Fri, March 15, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    BY KASSONDRA CLOOS

    Residents fearing flash floods surging from of the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar can pick up free sand bags starting Friday to protect their homes.

    The bags will  be empty, but residents can take up to 100 bags a day until the supply of about 50,000 runs out, said city emergency management coordinator Ken Hughlett.

    Bags will be available at four Colorado Springs fire stations starting Friday and at Colorado Springs Together starting Monday. If the firetruck isn’t at the station when people go to pick up sandbags, Hughlett said people should wait for someone to return or come back later. Residents will also get a list of local sand vendors and flood information including a DVD explaining sandbag placement.

    Flash flooding will be a rapid event, Hughlett said.

    “It’s only a temporary measure to give you time to get out of your house and away from floodwaters,” he said.

    Filled sandbags will also be available for free on April 13 at the Verizon Human Resources building, at 2424 Garden of the Gods Road.

    Theresa Springer, Waldo Fire rehabilitation coordinator at the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, said correct sandbag placement is important but can be complicated.

    “The No. 1 rule is you’re deflecting water with the flow of water,” she said. “Sandbag walls cannot take a head-on hit.”

    Addresses:

    Colorado Springs Together, 6840 Centennial Blvd., Suite

    Business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday

    9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the following fire stations:

    Fire Station 5, 2830 W. Colorado Ave.

    Fire Station 9, 622 Garden of the Gods Rd.

    Fire Station 12, 445 Rockrimmon Blvd.

    Fire Station 18, 6830 Hadler View

  • City’s Waldo Canyon fire review to be completed over the next few weeks

    Thu, March 14, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Colorado Springs city officials are in the final stages of their much anticipated Waldo Canyon Fire After Action Review which, after nine months of work, could be completed in the next three to four weeks.

    Cindy Aubrey, the city’s chief communication officer, said the report will be city-wide, encompassing Police and Fire Departments, as well as the Office of Emergency Management. The review is  standard procedure, Aubrey said, and is not an investigation–instead, it will serve as a review of the city’s actions during the Waldo Canyon fire, which burned into the city and destroyed hundreds of homes in June.

    The review was proceeded by the city’s Initial After Action Review,  which was released in October.  The initial review offered a short timeline of the city’s involvement in the fire–mostly when a firestorm pushed the fire into city limits on June 26.

    The fire department’s part of the report is more than 100 pages long, after months of editing and compiling, said Sunny Smaldino, spokeswoman for the department.

    The completed report will still be subject to review, approval and more edits. The city has not set a final date for the release of the report, Aubrey said on Thursday.