Waldo Canyon fire
|Waldo Canyon Fire|
The fire moving towards the Mountain Shadows area of Colorado Springs.
|Location||El Paso and Teller counties, Colorado, including Colorado Springs, Cascade, Chipita Park, Green Mountain Falls, Crystola, Manitou Springs, and The United States Air Force Academy, Colorado.|
|Date||June 23, 2012 - July 10, 2012|
|Burned area||18,247 acres (28.511 sq mi; 73.84 km2)|
|Land use||Forest, rural, urban|
|Injuries||at least 6|
The Waldo Canyon Fire was a forest fire that started approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) northwest of Colorado Springs, Colorado on June 23, 2012, and 1 mile (1.6 km) from a western neighborhood. It was declared 100% contained on July 10, 2012 after no smoke plumes were visible on a small portion of the containment line on Blodgett Peak. As of August 27, it was still an actively burning fire according to Inciweb. The fire was active in the Pike National Forest and adjoining areas, covering a total of 18,247 acres (29 sq mi; 74 km2). The fire had caused the evacuation of over 32,000 residents of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and Woodland Park, several small mountain communities along the southwestern side of Highway 24, and partial evacuation of the United States Air Force Academy. Approximately 346 homes were destroyed by the fire. U.S. Highway 24, a major east-west road, was closed in both directions. The Waldo Canyon Fire is the most expensive fire in Colorado state history with insurance claims totaling more than US$352.6 million. It was also the most destructive fire in Colorado state history as measured by the number of homes destroyed, eclipsing the previous record-holding fire, the High Park Fire of 2012.
June 23, 2012 (Sat) 
Around noon, residents from multiple communities of Colorado Springs reported smoke originating from hills just north of U.S. Route 24. Half an hour later, the city confirmed a localized brush fire in a valley just south of Rampart Range Road. Three cyclists on Rampart Range road recorded the growing fire just a few minutes after the city confirmed the fire's existence. As the fire spread, police forces issued a mandatory evacuation to residents in the Cedar Heights neighborhood and hikers in the surrounding area. Due to wide public interest, various agencies held a preliminary media briefing in the afternoon at 1:45 PM. Erratic winds caused the rapid spread of fire to the northwest and south. As the fires grew to 600 acres by 3 p.m., the towns of Chipita Park, Colorado, Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, and Cascade, Colorado were put under voluntary evacuations. Planes dropped retardant slurry on what was thought to be called the Pyramid Mountain Fire (which was a small <20 acre fire in the same area the night before). Voluntary evacuations were placed for residents living west of 30th Street from Gateway to Chuckwagon Road, and the neighborhood of lower Mountain Shadows. Fifty police officers helped firefighters carry out a smooth three-hour evacuation.
By 4 p.m., the fire had intensified, and officials confirmed the name to be the Waldo Canyon Fire. Standby evacuations were declared for Chipita Park, Green Mountain Falls, and Cascade. A total of 70 fire trucks made their way to the burn area. A staging area for firefighters had been set up at 31st St. and Colorado Avenue, and the CSFD mobile command unit was activated. Officials were told to open the city's emergency operations center. Flames were seen to occasionally reach 150 above the treetops. One of Cedar Heights' task forces was sent to the Queens Canyon area, including the historic Glen Eyrie estate, where firefighters removed flammable materials and otherwise mitigated fire risks. A third task force of two engines and two brush trucks was sent to lower Mountain Shadows. The deployments quickly tapped out the department, prompting the city to ask fire departments from Stratmoor Hills, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Cimarron Hills and Peterson Air Force Base to fill four city stations of Saturday. Three more were left empty. Colorado Springs Utilities' Catamount Wildland Fire Team, meanwhile, began to cut a firebreak above Cedar Heights, an effort that would continue in the following days. The neighborhoods of Peregrine, Oak Hills, Discovery, Raven Hills, and unincorporated Woodmen Valley were placed under voluntary evacuations around 6 p.m., and Reverse 911 calls successfully went out to residents in those communities.
Meanwhile, for several hours at the Norris-Penrose Equestrian Center southeast of the fire, trailer after trailer with evacuated horses arrived, including those from the Academy Riding Stables in Garden of the Gods, then Flying W Ranch's horses, owners with their horses, and a Dreamcatchers Equine Rescue trailer cram-packed with huge draft horses and a mustang from Rockledge Ranch. As quickly as trailers pulled in and were unloaded, volunteer workers snapped numbered bands around each horse's neck while others took down the owners' names and phone numbers. An identifying photo of each horse and owner was taken and all the information was posted on that horse's stall in one of the three barns. Owners were informed that they would be responsible for cleaning up their horses' stalls and they would need water buckets. Grateful owners, a number of whom said they would return several times during the night, had no problem with the rules.
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach declared the fire a Type 1 incident, the highest possible level that signifies its intensity. As the evening and night passed, the fire spread to 2,000 acres. Colorado Springs Sheriff Terry Maketa said around 2,000 to 2,300 people had been displaced, 650 firefighters were on scene, and around 1,000 homes were evacuated. At 11:30 p.m., evacuations began for the town of Manitou Springs. US 24 remained open despite signs that the fire was moving south towards the highway.
June 24, 2012 (Sun) 
By early morning, firefighters were protecting the community of Cedar Heights from the oncoming blaze. Mandatory evacuations were placed for the residents of Manitou Springs and Crystal Park, bringing the number of evacuees to 7,000. Later in the morning, around 7 a.m., residents in the towns of Green Mountain Falls, Cascade, and Chipita Park were ordered to start a mandatory evacuation. The Pikes Peak Highway and Garden of the Gods close to all staff and tourists.
At 11 a.m., US 24 was closed from 31st Street to Crystola. One helicopter, with four on order, two heavy air tankers, and two single-engine air tankers joined the fight by spreading retardant slurry around nearby structures in the Cedar Heights neighborhood and southern edge of the fire. Discussion started about whether to tap into federal funds, and the Army confirmed that two C-130 MAFFs (Modular Airborne FireFighting System) would be fighting the fire on Monday. Weather predictions showed hot and dry winds that would help accelerate the fire's spread for the next couple of days. Around 3 p.m., reports arrived that suggested flames were approaching US 24 near Cascade. Firefighters concentrated the effort on holding the fire north of US 24 and preventing it from spreading south into urban areas. Erratic winds drove the fire east into the outskirts of the Cedar Heights neighborhood, threatening multiple houses. The winds shifted again, slowing the fire's progress into Cedar Heights. The city and county issued disaster declarations.
Throughout the evening, multiple smaller communities in the Garden of the Gods region were evacuated. The fire showed signs of spreading in three new directions: northeast towards Cedar Heights, northwest towards Green Mountain Falls, and south towards Manitou Springs. Eleven thousand people had been evacuated up to this point, and multiple businesses and organizations were closed or canceled events. Shelters were set up for evacuees in Cheyenne Mountain High School District 12 and donation programs were opened. (The Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross would also be able to use Lewis-Palmer School District 38, Woodland Park School District RE-2, and Cripple Creek-Victor School District RE-1 for evacuations. The Cheyenne District had signed a shelter agreement with the Red Cross several years earlier and now had several students and alumni schedule some 300 volunteers to assist with the many chores.) Ten police officers and two sergeants returned to lower Mountain Shadows to complete "double checks." They worked methodically from top to bottom in Cedar Heights, knocking on doors. At 8 p.m., mandatory evacuations were lifted for Manitou Springs but remained for the town of Crystal Falls. The fire was not under any type of containment, but firefighters had been diligent in controlling the flames north of US 24.
June 25, 2012 (Mon) 
The fire line was held at Cedar Heights overnight, but a tongue of the fire crossed Rampart Range road and went into Queens Canyon. Fire officials were very worried as the National Weather Service predicts high winds, low humidity, and hot weather overall for the next few days. Steep topography, dry fuel, and hot conditions caused the fast spread of fire. Embers spit by the fire were carried by the wind over a quarter mile away and caused multiple small spot fires to burn brush and low vegetation. The fire spread dangerously close to houses in Cedar Heights, but no structures were lost there. The US Air Force Academy closed multiple mountain trails on Blodgett Peak, and the Bureau of Land Management issued campfire restrictions and banned campfires across 21 other Colorado counties. Firefighters successfully arrived near the Flying W Ranch and continued into Queens Canyon, but topography made slow progress on fighting the fire from the ground. Around noon, the two C-130 aircraft from the 302nd Airlift Wing at nearby Peterson Air Force Base and two from the 153rd Airlift Wing in Wyoming were made available for their first air dump of retardant near the Queens Canyon area.
Around 3 p.m., the fire had spread to a size of 3,446 acres as confirmed by infrared imaging, and signs of containment were seen. At a press conference at 5 p.m., the city confirmed the fire was held at 5 percent containment. Due to the weather conditions, spread of the fire into the Mountain Shadows area seemed imminent. Firefighters set up anchor points, drop lines, and safety zones to stop the fire's advancement into Green Mountain Falls and eastward into Colorado Springs. Mayor Steve Bach appeared on CNN to state that at this point Colorado Springs was under no danger and businesses were open. At 7 p.m., community meetings for evacuated residents and current residents living in western Colorado Springs took place. Sheriff Terry Maketa believed the fire had no relation to a rash of arson fires in Teller County. Patrols would take place in evacuated areas to catch looters. The fire had reached a size of 4,500 acres, 5 percent containment, and 4,825 people had been evacuated. Estimates for complete containment reached July 16. Plans were made to continue containment within Queens Canyon, north of US 24, and north around Palmer Reservoir and Eagle Lake Camp. By midnight, spot fires were visible from downtown Colorado Springs, and multiple air drops were scheduled for a containment line in Queens Canyon and along US 24.
June 26, 2012 (Tue) 
Despite years of warnings, three days of fire nearby, and conspicuous signals of impending disaster, the city was as prepared as possible that day. It began with the Type 1 team's 6 a.m. briefing at the Incident Command Post at Holmes Middle School. The Fire Behavior Analyst warned that the day's conditions would be exactly the same as those of June 9, 2002 when the notorious Hayman Fire made a 60,000-acre run north of Lake George in the same Pike National Forest. Firefighters in the Springs were now warned to expect a "red flag" day with gusty winds, thunderstorms, and a growing pyrocumulus cloud. All the briefings said that if this fire crossed Queens Canyon, it would be huge. In a 10:52 a.m. news release issued by the city, however, evacuees were told that they could return to their homes for a half-hour. (The plan had been signed off on the night before by the police who'd be responsible for checking those residents back into lower Mountain Shadows.) Forty minutes later, the order was rescinded due to "current changes in fire behavior."
Strikingly, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Colorado Springs, 101 °F (38 °C), occurred the same day as the fire's rapid expansion. In the afternoon, due to strong winds following a dry thunderstorm west of the blaze, the fire jumped the containment line on Rampart Range Road and entered into Queen's Canyon by 3:45 p.m. At 4:21 p.m., as smoke billowed in the distance, Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach interrupted a news conference with the evacuation order. As the fire crested Queen's Canyon, winds from the west nearing 65 mph gusts pushed the fire down the slope into the west side of the city, into the Mountain Shadows, Oak Valley Ranch, and Peregrine neighborhoods. As the day progressed into the late afternoon and evening, multiple structures were burned including the Flying W Ranch, a Colorado Springs landmark built in 1953. Within 12 hours, some 346 homes in western Colorado Springs were burned to the ground, with hundreds more undergoing fire and smoke damage from surrounding houses.
The air in Colorado Springs began filling with brown smoke from the fire, and falling ash was being reported throughout the city in the late afternoon into the evening hours.
The City of Colorado Springs begun evacuating the northwest side of the city in the evening hours, the bright orange and red glow as well as small flames becoming visible in the foothills to the west. What happened in upper Mountain Shadows was bedlam. Sixty on-duty police officers raced to carry out a plan that their supervisors had devised just hours before. Officers were to work from west to east, "ensuring that no structures have been overlooked or missed being contacted." Starting at 4:45 p.m. fire apparatus raced to the subdivision from miles away in the city. But as they started arriving, they encountered roads jammed with 26,000 evacuees. Some firefighters were diverted to help them. That's when they received orders to pull back—the pyrocumulus cloud had collapsed and pushed the fire "much more rapidly into the City than the [city's] fire behavior models had predicted."
The evacuation plan had been drafted only that morning, and was enacted minutes before the first homes burned. Local firefighters found themselves outgunned, and much of the help from other fire departments was nowhere close, because leaders sought those resources only after flames came into the city. Their chief staging area wasn't set up and equipped until houses were ablaze, and they didn't have a mobile command post until eight hours into Tuesday's firefight. When firefighters tried to reach command or each other, sometimes no one answered. Many weren't told exactly what to do and, at times, didn't know who was in charge. Not until 4:11 p.m. did city officials seek help from Denver fire departments, some of which already were on the fire. At 5:21 p.m., El Paso County put out an all-county page for extra resources for the city; units came from Fountain, Calhan, Stratmoor Hills, Fort Carson, Black Forest, Security, Pueblo, Tri-County and Ellicott. When additional resources did arrive, some were idled even as personnel amid the firestorm begged for help.
Firefighters re-entered the subdivision at roughly 6 p.m. A CSFD logistics base, the department's only source for supplies, was moved twice before being set up at Coronado High School about that same time. An unknown party then announced that "Staging is at Station 9," about 3 miles to the northeast. The Captain from the logistics base himself went to Station 9, and plans were quickly sketched out for how to manage the arrival of 150 firefighters and dozens of engines flooding in from surrounding areas and other Springs stations. The neighboring commercial parking lot was occupied and a medical area was established. Two city medical units with American Medical Response were coordinated to evacuate Mount St. Francis Nursing Center. It was made sure that the city had emergency medical coverage, that Station 9's medical/rehab unit was staffed to evaluate firefighters for fatigue, illness and injuries, and that the mass casualty trailer was retrieved from Station 19. Reports say that some firefighters slept on the asphalt at Station 9 until quarters could be secured at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs dormitories on Thursday, June 28.
Among other goofs later reported, Engine 18 came upon two engines from Highway 115 Fire District "that were lost. They then attached themselves to us," and Heavy Rescue 17, responding from a prior medical call at Rockrimmon Boulevard and Woodman Road, was ready to help. But it sat idle at the 30th Street staging area for an unknown length of time, along with three other apparatus, until one of its members, unable to reach anyone by radio, literally walked to the command post to announce the company was there. There were also "reports of other out of town companies going directly into the fire area without checking in with command or staging," and maps had not been made in advance for out-of-town engines.
All westbound traffic from I-25 was blocked from the exits of Woodmen Road south to Fillmore Street. Colorado Springs Police (CSPD) had closed westbound Garden Of The Gods Road at I-25, northbound 30th at Fontmore, Fillmore/Fontmore at Mesa were also blocked by CSPD.
For around 12 hours I-25 southbound was shut down at the Colorado Springs city-limit.
June 27, 2012 (Wed) 
A firefighter with the Denver Fire Department and a USGS aerial survey team estimated by photographic topography that 300 or more homes had burned to the ground. The fire prompted another mandatory evacuation of Crystola and parts of Woodland Park in Teller County. Another 20,000 or so residents were issued pre-evacuation notices from North of Air Force Academy to southwestern Douglas County, with the towns of Palmer Lake and Monument being a part of the pre-evacuation area as well. Everything west of I-25, south of Noe Road in Douglas County, and east of Rampart Range Road was on standby to be evacuated should the fire continue to spread.
City firefighters leading efforts on the ground that night readily admitted that the fire could have charged furthger eastward for miles had it not been for the unanticipated arrival of the hot shots crews. One Company Officer expressed "safety concerns" after he pulled a 36-hour shift starting at 7 a.m. that morning, during which he oversaw 12 different crews on six apparatus. Six firefighters suffered minor injuries, and 52 firefighters were sent home due to fatigue.
At the height of the fire, 1,500 firefighters stayed at the Holmes Middle School campus. Some days, more than 300 grateful people lined up to welcome them back after their shifts.
At 2 a.m. the morning of Wednesday, June 27, Jamie Gaynor, DVM, MS, EMT, was activated by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps. Animals evacuated by the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs were showing up at shelters and needed attention. Members of his staff had been evacuated from their homes. Gaynor's practice was located west of the wildfire. On that day Gaynor was caring for evacuated animals and creating the clinic's evacuation plan. He was cautiously confident the fire wouldn't reach the clinic, but it was in the danger zone—embers blown by the wind could have ignited new fires at any time. The practice had been inundated with smoke for the past two days. Although most of his clients had canceled their appointments, the clinic was housing eight hospitalized patients and five dogs that had been evacuated in their care. In the meantime, animals were showing up at area shelters with smoke-related symptoms, which Gaynor was helping to treat. "At least 30,000 people have been evacuated, which means there are a lot of animals involved." There was a lot of coughing, sneezing, respiratory and ocular issues in the pets he was treating, including smoke-triggered asthma in cats. In addition to physical effects, Gaynor says he saw an emotional impact on the animals as well. "What's interesting between my own patients and the evacuees is a certain level of anxiety," he said. "They can smell the smoke and their natural reaction is to exit that smoke." His team was experiencing a certain level of anxiety, too. Some had already been evacuated from their homes. And everyone was bracing for possible evacuation of the clinic—either voluntary if conditions worsened or mandatory if the fire continued to blaze east. "We can be out of this facility with patients in 30 minutes or less," Gaynor said. "Even if we have to evacuate we know where we'll set up our ICU. The south office is six miles from here--really in no danger zone." (The clinic survived unscathed.)
June 28, 2012 (Thu) 
Mayor Steve Bach confirmed that 346 homes in the Colorado Springs area had been destroyed by the Waldo Canyon Wildfire, making it the most destructive fire in the State's history.
Later that same night, it was confirmed that one person was killed and that one was injured due to the Waldo Canyon Wildfire.
At this point, the cause of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire remained unsolved and was still under investigation.
By this date, the Pikes Peak Community Foundation had created The Waldo Canyon Fire Fighter’s Fund to support the efforts of public and volunteer fire departments in El Paso and Teller Counties. This fund would provide financial resources for the fire departments working on this effort – supporting any needs that may arise, from food and cots to firefighting equipment – as well as future wildfire mitigation efforts in the Pikes Peak region.
June 29, 2012 (Fri) 
During a two-and-a-half hour visit, President Barack Obama toured the Mountain Shadows neighborhood and made a stop at Fire Station 9 to thank firefighters followed by a visit to the American Red Cross evacuation shelter at Southeast YMCA Family Center (on Astrozon Blvd.) to meet with volunteers and evacuees.
Memorial Health System (MHS) physicians and nurses had treated patients at their emergency department with breathing problems from the heavy smoke in the area - including young children. University of Colorado Health (UCHealth) and Children’s Hospital Colorado up in Aurora offered donations, supplies and medical staff to assist in treating patients if MHS requested this assistance. Volunteers were also available to assist in the City of Colorado Springs’ emergency command center.
It was reported today that there were two fatalities as a result of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire. William Everett, a 74-year-old Vietnam veteran, and his 73-year-old wife Barbara had died on Tuesday. They had planned to flee after calling a relative from their home, indicating that they were in the process of evacuating their house shortly before the home caught fire. Both died from "thermal injuries and smoke inhalation."
July 1, 2012 (Sun) 
On July 1, substantial progress was made. Firefighters were able to contain 55% of the fire. Despite these improvements, Colorado Springs still remained under a red flag warning throughout the day.
Highway 24 was reopened after being completely closed to traffic due to the fire reaching the edge of Highway 24. At some points, Highway 24 was limited to 2-lanes and restricted to residents of Teller & Park Counties only.
Evacuation orders for most of the 35,000 people displaced by the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs were lifted late Sunday, and residents were allowed to return to their homes—or what was left of them. About 3,000 residents remained under evacuation orders. But fire damage wasn't the only concern for residents returning home. Bears and burglars posed further danger to homeowners who headed back to towns and cities after the fire, the former attracted by the scent of trash left by the residents that fled. And there had been 24 reported burglaries of vacated homes.
July 4, 2012 (Wed) 
The fire was at 80% containment, with 1,286 fire fighting personnel working. The total size of the fire was now at 18,247 acres. It was estimated to be fully contained at this point by 12 a.m. on Sunday July the 8th, 2012 (One week ahead of originally thought).
Mandatory evacuations in some still-affected areas of Northwestern Colorado Springs were expected to be lifted by this evening.
Due to the fire bans that were in effect, the United States Air Force Academy cancelled their annual Fourth of July Firework Show.
July 5, 2012 (Thu) 
The fire was at 90% containment, with 776 personnel working the fire (fewer people than the day before). The estimate to be fully contained was updated to Friday July the 6th, 2012.
Thirty-seven homes that were evacuated were by now reported to have been burglarized, and authorities were offering up to $50,000 for information on the culprits. In addition, 28 vehicles, many packed with evacuee's belongings, also were broken into after residents fled the fire. The National Guard was summoned to secure and help protect properties within the evacuated areas.
El Paso County published a "Relief and Recovery Assistance Guide" today to connect residents with disaster assistance and information. (A revised edition would be published on July 26.)
The origin of the fire was located and investigators were determining the exact cause.
July 10, 2012 (Tue) 
According to The Denver Channel 7 News, the most damaging wildfire in Colorado history was 100 percent contained.
The Waldo Canyon Fire left two people dead, destroyed some 346 homes and burned 18,247 acres in the Pike National Forest and in Colorado Springs. Incident Commander Troy Nelsen flew over the fire around 6 p.m. and could not find any smoke plumes in the Blodgett Peak area. It was the only area of concern and with no smoke showing in that area for the past 36 hours the team declared the fire 100 percent contained.
Wildfire experts say that nearly 20 percent of the total area consumed by the intense blaze was burned so severely that no living vegetation was left on the surface nor root systems left below the surface to a depth of about 4 inches. The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment team determined that 3,375 acres or about 5 square miles was damaged so badly, left so barren after the blaze ripped through the area that it was likened to moonscape. Aerial mulching for emergency stabilization via helicopters treated 3,038 acres with AgStraw and over 8,000 tons of Woodshred mulch by the second half of September. The team was concerned that increased flooding in the area of the fire scar could lead to mudslides along roads and into neighborhoods. "What ends up happening is big boulders, trees, all these burnt trees can fall over, get in these drainages, move downhill very quickly and then cause debris dams and then cause roads to fail and perhaps failures onto Highway 24 or into neighborhoods... this will continue to impact this area absolutely for at least 10 years. Those who live near the burn area need to stay alert and be prepared."
The scarred hillsides in the Waldo Canyon fire burn area could increase as much as twentyfold the intensity of flash flooding in the streets and neighborhoods below. In a region with insufficient stormwater systems that is prone to quick, hard summer rains that yearly produce localized flash floods, the burned slopes only increase the chance for disaster. And as it goes down the six waterways that flow from the burn area, that water will pick up sediment and other debris that could cause massive damage to homes, bridges, culverts and streets in Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Ute Pass — and even farther downstream. To mitigate possible damage, the Forest Service also cleaned culverts, removed sediment, installed warning signs and more, at a cost of about $5 million. Colorado Springs Utilities spent about $8.2 million to fix a damaged pipeline and access road near West Monument Creek, and to add sediment catchment basins to spread debris and slow water flow as it moves downhill. Sediment ponds were added at Flying W Ranch and at Glen Eyrie, which will also construct a debris fence. A debris fence, temporary floodwall and auxillary spillway are planned at the Alpine Autism Center. Those are part of about $6 million in projects for the city, which also used Air Force Academy cadets and volunteers to build sediment ponds along the slopes of Blodgett Peak Open Space. CDOT and El Paso County have focused on the Highway 24 area, working to secure slopes along the route and improve drainage. CDOT’s long-term improvements, beginning in 2013, include a concrete retaining wall to manage debris flow and replacing 18-inch drainage pipes with pipes at least twice as large. The county plans to add a basin to catch sediment and debris upstream of Rainbow Falls, with work beginning late 2013. Manitou Springs doubled the size of two storm drains to handle the flow from Williams Canyon Creek, purchased three early-warning sirens and removed trees from Fountain Creek that were catching debris.
The city of Colorado Springs published a "Recovery Resource Guide" in August 2012 to provide "an outline to assist in the efforts to restore the community."
No schools were damaged in the blaze, although it did burn close, in some cases scorching nearby trees. Colorado Springs School District 11 officials knew of 98 student families impacted by the fire, plus the families of at least 17 staff members. In Academy School District 20 about 35 students and 20 staff members lived on streets that were listed as highly impacted. Firefighters were working with districts as classes resumed to answer questions, provide support and be visible for kids. Teachers and principals at schools nearest the Waldo Canyon fire burn area expected a lot of conversation about the fire. Teachers and staff at many schools were getting crisis training, and learning how to recognize symptoms of stress. Schools are required by law to hold regular fire drills, and D-11 planned to hold special assemblies soon after school started to give students, especially younger ones, opportunities to interact with firefighters.
D-11 officials have contacted families whose homes were destroyed. They knew there are others whose homes are not on the public damaged lists, but are uninhabitable because of damages inside. Families who were displaced while those damages are repaired were encouraged to contact the Title 1 office so the district can help them with their needs. D-11 expected to provide transportation for 27 students to their home schools. For others affected, transportation either wasn't an issue or they were living close to their destroyed homes. At least four children weren’t returning to their home schools, choosing to attend a school elsewhere in the district or in another district. Some 31 Coronado High School students lost their homes in the blaze, although others will likely also seek help. About 30 families at Chipeta Elementary School lost their homes, as did one staff member. Burned homes were not visible from the school, which is a good thing for students. Six schools in mandatory evacuation or pre-evacuation zones were in Academy School District 20. The district was waiting for families and others who were impacted by the blaze to contact it about their specific needs. At least five families at Air Academy High School lost their homes. Those families said the biggest help would be cash to fill the gaps left by insurance, and the school was working to replace school-related items. It was expected that some students would take on fire-related volunteer projects when they return to school. Assistance wasn't limited to current students. Recent graduates have contacted their schools about replacing memorabilia lost in the fire, and schools were pitching in to help. Although communities served by Manitou Springs School District 14 and Woodland Park School District RE-2 were evacuated and the burn scar is visible from schools, no students lost their homes. Officials from all the impacted districts said returning to a consistent and predictable schedule and school activities would help staff and students alike find normalcy and move on.
The fire remains under investigation. While authorities did determine that the fire was human-caused, they are still without a suspect who can help them prove that the fire was either accidental or intentional. Initial assessment of actions during the fire suggested improvements the city could make in the future, including an improvement of internal communications throughout the event.
The rebuilding of devastated neighborhoods is occurring slowly following the initial removal of debris. Over 450 houses that survived the actual fire demonstrated in the following months hidden damage due to exposure to high temperatures (up to 2,000 degrees F), ash or embers, and corrosive particulate infiltration. As of Dec. 12, there have been only 65 new home permits issued to replace the destroyed houses. From the start, the staff at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum recognized the historical significance of the fire. Within a few days of the fire, the museum had put a call out for people to tell their stories and to collect artifacts from the fire.
The city released a 34-page self-assessment Initial After Action Report on Oct. 23. (The Full After Action Report is due out in the second quarter of 2013.) By this time, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 5 had presented the CSFD Chief with a list of 15 "concerns," most of which deal with the Waldo Fire. "This list is a one-page document that describes employees' candid opinions about Fire Department issues and/or suggestions/recommendations as to how CSFD may improve in these particular areas." The Colorado Springs Independent released its own 5-month investigation on Dec. 12, in part based on 116 duty reports filed by CSFD firefighters who worked this fire. City Council president Scott Hente, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper are among those who are calling for an unbiased, third-party review of the fire, above and beyond the city's report due in March. Mayor Bach and the Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Local 5 want to see the city's report before backing an external review which some national experts say might cost up to a quarter million dollars. A U.S. Forest Service account of its actions during the fire points out that blazes like these have become the norm, not an aberration. "The Waldo Fire was a perfect example of the type of wildland urban interface fires that have been consistently occurring for the past 10 years and will be occurring for the foreseeable future," the report says. "These wildland fires cross many jurisdictional and political boundaries."
In early January 2013 it was announced that the final dollars from the Waldo Canyon Fire Assistance Fund had been given out to twenty local non-profit groups. The fund was established with a seed grant of $125,000 from El Pomar Foundation. With the addition of donations from the community the fund totaled $940,299.93. An advisory committee made up of people with emergency response experience and a victim of the fire reviewed proposals and approved the grants.
A group of disgruntled fire survivors started impromptu meetings in the fall, originally as the Waldo Canyon Fire Victims Association with nearly 50 families from the Mountain Shadows, Peregrine and Rockrimmon neighborhoods. Their homes had survived the conflagration but had sustained heavy smoke, ash and soot damage. They united because of an inability to get insurance companies to pay damage claims, and they eventually renamed their larger group the Catastrophic Insurance Complaints in Colorado Association. Meeting with various elected officials, including Mayor Steve Bach in early January, to crack the bureaucratic morass, some of the homeowners said they won't get full payment from their insurance companies until they have rebuilt their homes or replaced damaged property, which they must do by June 26, 2013, one year after the fire.
On February 7, the city of Woodland Park issued its own After Action Report, 31 pages in length.
And beginning in February, the Waldo Canyon Fire burn site will be repeatedly visited by engineers and scientists with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, with help from the U.S. Forest Service, to investigate what burned, when, how badly and why, to guide preventative measures as well as to aid firefighting efforts. This effort was instigated by Colorado's U.S. Sens. Michael Bennett and Mark Udall last October. The city was chosen, in part, because "it is already light years ahead of other cities in adopting fire-resistant building codes and reducing fire risk. I think they're going to grow a tool to the point it's going to give us tremendously more accurate information than we have now," said Colorado Springs Fire Marshal Brett Lacey. Sealing the deal was the city's existing three-dimensional imaging of the Mountain Shadows area. Gathered for planning and development purposes, the NIST investigators can know what existed before the fire swept into the city. Alexander Maranghides, lead investigator, envisions NIST's research leading to a playbook of sorts for commanders to consult to gauge how fast and where a fire will spread in making evacuation and firefighting decisions.
Since 2003, the Fire Department has mitigated 5,824 acres in the city, about 20 percent of the 28,800 acres located within the wildland urban interface, through its work with nearly 100 homeowner associations and neighborhood groups. Since the fire-resistant roofing ordinance was adopted about a decade ago, 68,915 homeowners have replaced their shake-shingle roofs or obtained roofing permits to do so. Officials from Germany, Australia, New Zealand and California have contacted the city in years past for its wildland program. And nine officials from a Russian fire agency came to observe the city's mitigation efforts -- arriving, ironically, just as Waldo broke out.
On March 27, the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition released a 48-page report based on interviews, field visits and tours of the neighborhoods most affected by the fire.
On April 3, the City of Colorado Springs released its 111-page Final After Action Report.
On April 19, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office released its 26-page After Action Report.
See also 
- 2012 Colorado wildfires
- Hayman Fire of 2002, the most extensive wildfire in Colorado recorded history
- "Waldo Canyon Fire Update 6-30-12 Pm". InciWeb. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
- "Colorado Springs Mayor: Fire Has Destroyed ’346 Homes’". CBS4 Denver. 2012-06-28.
- "InciWeb the Incident Information System: Colorado Incidents". Inciweb.org. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
- "Waldo Canyon Fire forces 11,000 people from their homes". The Denver Post. 2012-06-24. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "Colorado wildfire: Waldo Canyon fire now at 18,500 acres". denverpost. June 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
- St. Louis-Sanchez, Maria (September 23, 2012). "Waldo Canyon fire: Tally of destruction remains imprecise". The Gazette. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
- 600 Personnel Working To Contain 4,500 Acre Waldo Canyon Fire, KKTV, Mon 9:01 PM Jun 25, 2012
- Wineke, Andrew (July 17, 2012). "Waldo Canyon fire most expensive in state history". The Gazette.
- UPDATE 2-Colorado Springs fire ranks as state's most destructive on record, Reuters, Thu 7:12 PM EDT Jun 28, 2012
- "Video Captures Start Of Waldo Canyon Fire". DenverNews. June 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
- "New fires erupt in 2 of Colo.'s most scenic areas". The Pueblo Chieftain. June 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- "New Colo. wildfire erupts, grows out of control". CBS News. June 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- "Update: Waldo Canyon Fire Evacuations". ProQuest Information and Learning. June 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- Zubeck, Pam (December 12, 2012). "MisFire". Colorado Springs Independent. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- Navarro, Linda (June 24, 2012). "WALDO CANYON FIRE: Evacuated horses fill barns". The Gazette. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- McGraw, Carol (22 July 2012). "Schools Provided Perfect Evacuation Sites". The Gazette. Text " pg.Fire Heroes 2 " ignored (help);
- "Colorado reserve unit were called in to fight wildland fires". Af.mil. June 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- WALDO CANYON FIRE: Firefighters brace for challenges, June 25, 2012 1:04 AM
- Wilson, Jaryd (June 26, 2012). "Springs residents watch helplessly as houses burn". Coloradoconnection.com. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- Flying W Ranch burns to ground, Colorado Springs Gazette, June 26, 2012 7:19 PM
- Meyer, Jeremy P. and Ryan Parker (23 October 2012). "Report: City was not slow to order Waldo Canyon evacuations". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- Meyer, Jeremy P. "Colorado wildfire: Aerial photo shows about 300 homes destroyed in Waldo Canyon Fire". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "Colorado fires: Day 6: Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs burns several homes, thousands evacuated". 9news.com. 2012-06-29. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "Vandenberg 'Hot Shots' arrive to fight Colorado Springs fire". Arpc.afrc.af.mil. 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
- "Waldo Canyon Firefighters Thank Community". 11kktv.com. 2012-07-07. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- Scheidegger, Julie (July 3, 2012). "Colorado Springs veterinary clinic deals with Waldo Canyon Fire". DVM Newsmagazine. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- "Waldo Canyon Fire Fighters Fund". Pikes Peak Community Foundation. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- "University of Colorado Health and Children’s Hospital Colorado Provide Assistance for Waldo Canyon Fire and Colorado Springs". University of Colorado. June 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- "Storm Prediction Center".
- Stableford, Dylan (July 2, 2012). "Colorado wildfires: Residents return home as Waldo Canyon fire more than half-contained". Yahoo! News The Lookout. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- "Some evacuated streets to reopen Wednesday (KRDO 13)".
- "Waldo Canyon Fire: 37 Evacuated Homes Burglarized During Colo. Fire". Huffington Post. July 11, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- "Relief and Recovery Assistance Guide Waldo Canyon Fire June/July 2012". El Paso County. July 5, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- "Point Of Origin Found For Waldo Canyon Fire (KRDO 13)".
- "Worst Wildfire In State History 100% Contained" from The Denver Channel
- "Waldo canyon fire: 20 percent of soil so severely burned it is likened to 'moonscape'". The Huffington Post. July 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- Waldo Canyon Fire "Waldo canyon BAER implementation final update". inciweb.org. September 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- Burke, Abbie (July 11, 2012). "Flood concerns loom after Waldo Canyon Fire". Fox21 News. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- Stephens, Bob (January 26, 2013). "Looming danger: Burned slopes increase risk of flash floods". The Gazette. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- "Recovery Resource Guide Waldo Canyon Fire". El Paso County. August 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- Iodice, Kristina (August 5, 2012). "WALDO CANYON FIRE: Schools prepare to help students, families". The Gazette. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- Parker, Ryan (September 13, 2012). "Waldo canyon fire human caused, but intent still to be determined". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- "Waldo canyon fire after action report suggests better training in the future". The Huffington Post. October 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- Gorski, Eric (October 14, 2012). "Neighborhood devastated by waldo canyon fire rising again". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- Handy, Ryan Maye (November 18, 2012). "Hidden damage plagues residents of scar burn". The Gazette. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- St. Louis-Sanchez, Maria (December 23, 2012). "WALDO CANYON FIRE: 6 months later, neighborhood rebounds". The Gazette. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- Zubeck, Pam (9-15 January 2013). "Teachable moment". Colorado Springs Independent. Text " pg. 12 " ignored (help);
- St. Folsom, Bill (January 7, 2013). "Final grants from Waldo Canyon Fire Assistance Fund approved". KOAA.com. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- Handy, Ryan Maye (13 January 2013). "Lawmakers add their voices". The Gazette. Text " pp.B1,B5 " ignored (help);
- "City of Woodland Park Waldo Canyon Fire After Action Report". City of Woodland Park. Feb. 7, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- Zubeck, Pam (6-12 March 2013). "Still spreading". Colorado Springs Independent. Text " pg. 13 " ignored (help);
- "Lessons Learned from Waldo Canyon". Fire Adapted Communities. March 27, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
- "Waldo Canyon Fire 23 June 2012 To 10 July 2012 Final After Action Report". City of Colorado Springs. April 3, 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
- "Waldo Canyon Fire After Action Report". City El Paso County Sheriff's Office. April 19, 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Waldo Canyon Fire|
- Current evacuation zones and active burning area from The Gazette and Google Maps
- Waldo Canyon Fire from InciWeb
- City of Colorado Springs, with Fire Area, Pre- and Mandatory Evacuation Areas
- Hazardous Weather Forecast for Colorado Springs from National Weather Service
- Aerial photos of burned neighborhoods from Denver Post
- 5 Day Timelapse - Waldo Canyon Fire - June 23rd-28th by Steve Moraco video Published June 29, 2012
- Waldo Canyon Fire - Inside firefighter staging area FOX21News video, Published June 29, 2012
- Firefighters speak out about Waldo Canyon Fire FOX21News video, Published July 4, 2012
- Colorado Springs Cheers Waldo Canyon Firefighters video Published July 3, 2012
- Raw video of the Waldo Canyon Fire CSFD video Published July 11, 2012
- Waldo Canyon Fire Firefighters Impromptu Parade video Published July 4, 2012
- Relief and Recovery Assistance Guide Waldo Canyon Fire June/July 2012
- Recovery Resource Guide Waldo Canyon Fire August 2012
- Colorado Springs Waldo Canyon Fire Initial After Action Report
- City of Woodland Park Waldo Canyon Fire After Action Report
- Fire Adapted Communities Lessons Learned from Waldo Canyon
- Colorado Springs Waldo Canyon Fire Final After Action Report
- El Paso County Sheriff's Office Waldo Canyon Fire After Action Report