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

November 27, 2014 | NPR · Not surprisingly, many of the stories we heard from you were about food. You had issues roasting the turkey. Your mom found, um, a creative solution to making your bird a golden brown.
 

Ron Haviv/VII for NPR
November 27, 2014 | NPR · The average woman in Niger bears seven children — the world’s highest birth rate. And the country can barely feed its current population. How do you convince people that smaller families are better?
 

November 27, 2014 | KERA · Text messages from your doctor are just the start. Millennials are the next generation of doctors and they’re not afraid to say “chillax” in a consultation or check Twitter to find medical research.
 

Arts & Life

Crown Media
November 26, 2014 | NPR · Christmas cable movies are a genre unto themselves. We take a look at some of the Hallmark (and other) romances that are surprisingly big business this time of year.
 

AP
November 26, 2014 | NPR · Even as public schools in the area closed amid protests, the Ferguson Public Library stayed open for local students and readers. Onlookers have responded with an outpouring of donations.
 

November 26, 2014 | NPR · Cold, dark winter nights are the perfect time to dip into Gemma Files’ chilling new story collection, We Will All Go Down Together. Critic Jason Heller praises Files’ “ghostly, magical storytelling.”
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
November 26, 2014 | WXPN · The British singer and songwriter’s voice fills subtle, muted arrangements with color.
 

November 26, 2014 | NPR · Ari Shapiro previews his Thanksgiving Day conversation with Melissa Etheridge.
 

Courtesy of Sanctuary Records
November 26, 2014 | NPR · “I think if I had been an accomplished songwriter I wouldn’t have written ‘You Really Got Me,’ ” Davies tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.
 

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