32,000 people evacuated thus far. I am still several miles away from the fire, but I have many friends that had very little notice to scramble and leave their homes. The fire reached the top of a mountain crest and was whipped up by 60 mile/hour winds right down into town. Neighborhoods are blazing. The really sad thing is that this fire may have been intentionally set. The fire fighters are working so hard, but can't get this fire contained at all.
I share this to let you know I will post when I can, but honestly, everything is a bit disjointed and scattered for everyone in town. It feels like being in a dream. The smoke is like a heavy fog in parts of town. Ash is falling like snow. Keep Colorado Springs, Colorado in your thoughts. We need rain desperatly.
Fire is continuing to burn. It will be another long night, the evacuation area slowly grows. I have not been evacuated, but it is getting uncomfortably closer.
I want to share a couple of photos with you.
This next one is of firefighters saving a fawn in the midst of everything. Our firefighters are working around the clock in record heat and they still show such humanity. You can see where the the fawn's legs have been bandaged up.
We keep hoping for significant rain, but no joy thus far. I am hoping I don't have to evacuate tonight.
The fire has moved from my immediate area, but there are still many sections of town under evacuation. Last night the bulk of the fire appeared to have moved back into Queens Canyon. Now small mountain communities up I-24 are being evacuated and farther north like Monument are under pre-evacuation. The hard part is how unpredictable this fire is.
The 17,659-acre fire remains at 55% containment. More than 1,500 firefighters are working. It has remained in the hills away from homes for several days now. Damage totals are 346 homes destroyed and 24 homes damaged. We have FBI here investigating how the fire started. Two bodies have been discovered in the ashes, so now it is murder if somebody intentionally set the fire.
Friday, President Obama was here to survey the fire and the damage. We are trying to heal as a community. There are several fund raisers planned to help those who lost their homes. One creative fund-raiser that sprung from a few business people collaborating is Wildfire Teeshirts (click here.) Many people have submitted designs for the effort.
As an interesting side-note to this, one official has become a city celebrity and a facebook fan page was begun for her. She is Jerri Marr, forest supervisor for the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands. Check-out the outpouring of love for her (click here.)
Another interesting phenomenon is how people from around the world were watching our local 24 hour news coverage of the fire via internet live feeds. People from around the world have sent their sympathies and good wishes!