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Audio: Q & A between host Mike Procell and News Director Andrea Chalfin after the 5PM press conference
Sheriff Terry Maketa:
Firefighting efforts have been somewhat encouraging today. However, the remains of two individuals were recovered. At about 2:30pm remains of one individual were discovered, an hour later, another. They died in an area of a very high temperature burn. The coroner is on site. The sheriff’s office will proceed with notifications of family and then the public will learn identities of those who perished. This fire is now a criminal investigation.
At this time, 15,700 acres have burnt. The evacuation area has expanded to the left of highway 83. 38,000 people have been evacuated. 13,000 residences have been evacuated. The sheriff’s office has full-time staff devoted to continuing the assessment of homes and efforts will continue throughout the night. 24-25 square miles have been affected by the fire.
Rich Harvey, Incident Commander:
His team and El Paso County are working well together. There are 750 firefighters working this fire, with lots of aviation support.
Their current goal is to shore up the southern side of the fire at Shoup Road. This section looks good and he declares the fire is 5% contained. Although, they haven’t made much progress; there is still lots to do, but he is happy with the progress.
To the north, the fuel source of the fire changes from timber to grasses, which will change their approach to the fire.
Aerial efforts have been great, as has the Black Forest Fire Protection District. Local agencies have been very helpful.
Again the fire is 5% contained and they are aggressively engaging the fire.
Steve Bach, Mayor Colorado Springs:
This is sad day in the Pikes Peak Region and his thoughts are with the community and those affected. Many thanks to Sheriff Maketa for his leadership. Discussions with those evacuated are always difficult.
Police Chief Carey:
Folks in the Flying Horse area that have been recently evacuated were able to leave within one hour. There are security patrols in the area, protecting residences. No one can return tonight. If the area is stable, an escort service will be established tomorrow. The Human Society has access to the area and can help get pets from homes. Their number is 719-473-1741. UCCS has opened a shelter for evacuees, (though no pets are allowed).
El Paso County Commissioner Glen:
1.) Animal control needs to be centralized. Therefore, the Human Society is setting up shop at the Disaster Assistance Center at 1675 Garden of the Gods Road. They are seeking people who can volunteer to help AND those that need assistance. Blake Dwyer is coordinating the effort and can be reached at 719-776-0725 or 719-444-8301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2.) The county is working to create a Black Forest Reentry Response Team, when the time is right to help residents return.
3.) He has seen firsthand that the Pinery, Black Forest Community Center and School in the Woods have survived the fire.
4.) Crews from Security and Boulder worked to save the School in the Woods.
5.) 190 families have been helped at the Disaster Relief Center so far.
As a reminder, containment is just that… and ring around the fire. 100% containment doesn’t mean that the fire is out, just contained. There are still many hotspots in this fire, so don’t hear 5% containment and think that the fire is under control.
He believes that no additional homes have been lost today.
Next briefing at 9AM, tomorrow.