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A benefit concert held Wednesday night raised more than $288,000 for the Waldo Canyon Victims Assistance Fund, managed by the Pikes Peak United Way. As of late last night, the fire was 95% contained, and the number of personnel fighting the blaze dropped to just over 400. KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin has this recap of where officials stand now, and what’s next.
It’s been nearly two weeks since the Waldo Canyon Fire grew out of the mountains east of Colorado Springs, at its height causing over 30,000 evacuations in El Paso and Teller Counties. It’s responsible for two deaths and the destruction of nearly 350 homes. Lieutenant Jeff Kramer of the El Paso County Sheriff’s department said yesterday morning investigators found the point of origin of the fire.
“For the sake of safeguarding the integrity of the investigation, I will not be discussing specifics on where that location is. But I can tell you now that because it has been found, investigators are spending a majority of their time in and around that area to help answer that next question which is cause.”
Officials said yesterday morning a Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation team, or BAER team, is working to assess the potential of flooding. Incident Manager Rich Harvey said the team will map burn severity, and implement tools like straw waddles and fallen trees to help prevent sediment and debris runoff.
“They have a very short time frame to work in and get those things done, because obviously rain can come any time. We’re hopeful for rain, we’re hopeful for it in the right place, but the BAER team is in position today to start to implement some of those strategies and tactics to prevent catastrophic erosion.”
Officials have urged residents this week to look into flood insurance, noting there’s a 30-day period between the time insurance is purchased to the time it takes effect.
And, Police Chief Pete Carey said yesterday morning an anonymous donor has given $50,000 to Crime Stoppers to help identify individuals responsible for burglarizing homes during the evacuation period.
“If anybody out there has information about people that broke into cars, looted, or broke into homes of our evacuees, we’d really like to make a difference in their lives and get some arrests made. I currently have detectives, police officers, and crime analysists putting together a lot of information. I think this $50,000 will actually help this and make some arrests.”
City police also said they received nearly 200 calls relating to fireworks on the 4th of July, and made five arrests. A burn ban remains in effect across the region.