A few days into the Black Forest Fire, some local residents are getting outdoors again. Others are still concerned about air quality. KRCC’s Michelle Mercer looked into air quality issues related to the Black Forest Fire.

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Containment is at 55%. Some areas are opening up as of 8 PM to a pre-evacuation notice: The area north of Hodgen Rd. and west of Black Forest Rd., and areas north of Walker Rd. High Forest Ranch will also be downgraded to preevacuation status. Access is from the north. Highway 83, Walker Road, and Meridian Road are still closed. El Paso County has released updated assessments of homes: 483 total loss, 17 partial damage, 3451 appear unaffected. Our notes follow:

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El Paso County’s disaster assistance center aims to connect evacuees with goods and services available. It served more than 200 households Thursday, its first day of operations. As KRCC’s Liz Ruskin found, it was crowded Friday with workers, volunteers and displaced families.

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The fire is 30% contained, says Incident Commander Rich Harvey. The count of houses lost is now 419. There is a community meeting at Palmer Ridge High School, Saturday morning at 10 AM for residents.

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The El Paso County Sheriff’s Department has released a new list of damaged properties in the Black Forest Fire, as of 10 PM Thursday night. The count now stands at 379 houses lost, nine partially damaged and 1,813 unaffected.They caution the information is subject to change.

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U.S. 50 has reopened, and all evacuated residents are allowed home. Officials say those residents will remain on a pre-evacuation notice, pending fire conditions. The Royal Gorge Tourist Train can begin running again, once the railway determines they’re ready. River access on the closed sections of the Arkansas River will be re-evaluated on Friday. Containment of the fire is listed at 40%.

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News was mixed during the Thursday afternoon press conference for the Black Forest Fire. Officials declared the blaze at 5% containment, but they also announced that two people perished in the fire. KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says the two people who lost their lives had been working to evacuate [...]

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The fire is 20% contained as of 9:30 this morning, though officials expect high fire activity today. Areas of the fire are burning in fuels that are 20-30% beetle-killed trees. The cause remains under investigation. As of last night, about 20 structures have been lost.

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Next press briefing is scheduled for 5 PM. 360 homes are complete losses, 1205 homes unaffected, 79 could not verify, 14 partially damaged. Estimated acreage burned is 15,000. El Paso County Disaster Assistance Center is open at the Citizen Service Center on Garden of the Gods Road. Expecting a red flag day, no containment to report.

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Many of us in Colorado Springs are eager for an update on the Black Forest Wildfire. We’ll hear more at the 9 a.m. press briefing. Early this morning, KRCC’s Michelle Mercer checked in with some of the locals most eager for news: Black Forest evacuees.

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As of 10:15 PM Tuesday night, officials estimate the Royal Gorge Fire at 3800 acres, with 0% containment. Evacuations include south of US 50 to Canon City; west from Canon City to Parkdale; east from County Road 3A. Red Cross shelter is located at Evangelical Free Church, Canon City. At least three structures have been lost. The fire jumped the Arkansas River canyon, and is within a quarter mile of US Hwy 50 in some areas. Power outages north of Canon City are affecting 350 customers.

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As the temperatures stay consistently warm, summer activities abound. This month’s Healthy Conversation features a few topics on summer safety. Lt. Col. Steven Tobler is Chief of Preventative Medicine at Evans Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson. We start by talking about some of the most common safety issues when it comes to summertime.

[...]

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Colorado is no stranger to the military. From active bases to a large veteran population, many residents of the state have some kind of association with the armed services. This month for Western Skies, we’re exploring some of those relationships.

You can listen to the entire episode here, or download it by right-clicking [...]

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Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, and El Paso County officials released a new preliminary flash flood risk analysis today for areas in and near the Waldo Canyon burn scar. The report models a specific rain event that has about a 10% chance of occurring in any given year. Patty Baxter with the El Paso County Office [...]

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The Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management is offering another round of free sandbags today to residents affected by potential flooding, starting at 5 PM.

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Industrial hemp could be Colorado’s next cash crop. But until rules are crafted for the growing and processing of the plant, state officials are telling would-be hemp farmers to wait. KUNC’s Luke Runyon has more.

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Reporter Julia Kumari Drapkin has spent the past year documenting stories of climate change in Colorado as part of iSeeChange, a project based at sister station KVNF in Paonia. This week’s This American Life features one of her stories.

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries are the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But another problem is starting to emerge after these soldiers come home and seek treatment. In a three-part series that started yesterday in the Colorado Springs Gazette, investigative reporter Dave Philipps examines the growing number [...]

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May is Mental Health Awareness month, and it’s an issue that affects one in four Americans. For this month’s Healthy Conversation, KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin is joined by Lieutenant Colonel Chuck Weber, Chief of Behavioral Health at Evans Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson, to talk about some of the programs and strategies they use [...]

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Governor John Hickenlooper recently fired up a special task force in response to the state’s ongoing drought. As Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports, the group will focus on making sure communities across the state can deal with the effects of drought.

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The country’s craft beer industry is growing at a tremendous rate. Last year, more than 400 breweries opened nationwide. In some states, like Colorado, there are so many craft breweries they’re beginning to blend together. As Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports, in such a crowded field, startups are trying a more unique approach.

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Colorado Springs City Council yesterday voted to spend $10 million from the city savings account to lessen the risk of catastrophic fire and flooding following last year’s Waldo Canyon fire. KRCC’s Liz Ruskin reports.

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Two years ago, a cantaloupe farm in southeastern Colorado was responsible for the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in decades. A packing facility there sent cantaloupe infected with listeria, a pathogen known for its high mortality rate, across the country. Since then, melon growers in the renowned Rocky Ford region have been trying to repair [...]

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News

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December 20, 2014 | NPR · The two officers were shot inside of their marked patrol car in Brooklyn. The suspected gunman has died of a self-inflicted gunshot.
 

AP
December 20, 2014 | NPR · An analyst from GasBuddy.com says 24 states have at least one station with the price per gallon at $1.99 or less.
 

AP
December 20, 2014 | NPR · He flew nearly 150 missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, but after the war, Steward returned home and was denied a mortgage because of his skin color.
 

Arts & Life

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December 20, 2014 | OZY · Rising temperatures have hastened harvest dates in Sonoma County — and they’re changing grape-growing patterns around the world. Vineyards are responding with everything from sunscreen to sensors.
 

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December 20, 2014 | NPR · Mark Bailey, who detailed old Hollywood’s legendary love affair with liquor in his book Of All the Gin Joints, shares stories from a bygone era over cocktails at a legendary Hollywood bar.
 

AP
December 20, 2014 | NPR · Some in the entertainment industry are wondering if they’ll have to be careful now about the stories they tell or the jokes they make in the wake of Sony’s withdrawal of The Interview.
 

Music

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December 20, 2014 | NPR · Michel Martin has spent much of the last few months on the road, and she has been moved by the people she’s met and the stories they’ve shared with her. She remembers her ‘Top 5′ moments of 2014.
 

NPR
December 20, 2014 | NPR · She came to the desk a little unsure, and left singing “West Memphis” with intensity and passion. Williams has a voice like no other, and it shines in these intimate moments.
 

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December 20, 2014 | NPR · From Aphex Twin’s unmistakable return to Leon Vynehall’s emotional faculty with samples, distinctive voices dominate the list of electronic albums that made an impression this year.
 

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