Transcript for Colorado Officials Update Public on Dangerous Wildfires
This is this special report from ABC news. Hello this is an ABC news digital special report good morning -- time and is in New York for a major wildfires continue to burn out of control at this hour one of the blazes. -- Colorado Springs has damaged or destroyed up to sixty homes. -- and 6000 residents have been forced to evacuate as firefighters faced hot dry and windy conditions. We -- about to head to a news conference where -- -- updating us on this fire here is. Share from past. Very very hot fire. Even at 5 AM this morning. Now as we know that winds are expected to pick up. We're going to be in a red flag warning day today so what happens right now on what has happened up to this point. Is probably going to be pretty calm -- what we can expect. For the remainder of the day we have more resources arriving. As you have seen already we've had aerial support up there. As soon as they could get in and get to ground support to assist. But this fire as you well know spread very rapidly yesterday. It moved through areas very quickly consumed a lot of land so we'll do is kind of just go through where were still under mandatory evacuation. Which we expect that to remain in effect. At least throughout today completely today and others a lot of questions come into our joint information center. Ask him when we can go home when we and our homes it's still -- very hot and active fire area. And even this morning you can hear explosions. Around some of the front line of that fire from pro Ting -- propane tanks and other fuel sources. Mandatory evacuation is still. -- Let's talk hosts. To Easton bill road which last night it was meridia and it has been expanded -- was expanded last night to Easton bill. And then Hodge and on the north boundary Burgess on the south. We're still working in an area of about 48 square miles. Obviously many -- you know that is pretty heavily -- area. We know it is. That area encompasses about 2625. Homes. And we're looking at about it affecting 7358. People. We also have some pre evacuation you'll see it to the south -- Burgess. And to the east I want to continue to warn those people that we're expecting the winds to blow toward the east today move into the south. And then. Just depending on what weather reports -- Sean. We anticipate those winds are gonna double back and could push the fire back to the west again. By mid afternoon. So we have some very unpredictable. Predictable conditions that we're dealing with up there. And again. Just to stress. The priorities are saving lives. Protecting the firefighters -- first responders and improperly. So when you hear it you see these wind shift. We don't want somebody trapped behind it -- is a first responder and so far we have zero injuries reported two. Responders at this point. We're still in the 7000. Or 7508000. Acres. That's affected by this we began. Doing an assessment. On the properties. That are affected we started that about 4 AM. And another move and methodically street by street at least on those that they can and we're hoping to get some information out this afternoon. As far as what homes are still intact are unaffected and some that may sustain partial damage. Which could be misleading because from the exterior. We may see minor partial damage but the reality is until we get in and truly -- it. It could be a total loss so our intent is really just to get preliminary information out there and I want to really stressed some caution. That our intent is to let people know the status of their property. However could change. If the winds do double back on us property that we felt or that we identified as being salvaged were unaffected. It could very easily. Be consumed by the fire today that fire is far from under control or extinguish. So that some of the things that we are work in very aggressively on. We had hoped to start the assessment much earlier last night around midnight 1 AM time frame but we had to keep Poland resource is over. To do some. Last minute rescue stuff. As well as some traffic control and staging our guys for additional evacuations fortunately we did not have to expand. The mandatory evacuations. We -- currently have about a 155. Fire personnel on site. 48. Helicopters. We have National Guard troops that are relieving our law enforcement folks so they can engage in this assessment we're starting on the west moving to the east. And we four bulldozers coming up from Carson in addition. To the bulldozers and graders we currently have today -- -- going to be focusing a lot on. At least cutting some fire lines and see if we can negate some of the winds that we are expecting. We have two fire trucks and crews from the National Guard. Right now the National Guard is also Manning five checkpoints. And of course there are involved in the aerial attack. The next question that typically comes up is when are we NSC. The heavy aircraft. Hitting the fire right now -- anticipating activity to begin. Around 11 o'clock there's a lot of coordination we have to do with the existing aerial resources. As well as coordinating. Those those large tankers the -- with the ground troops that are there working. In those areas so that coordination and planning is taking place right now. And will probably start bringing them -- now we're guessing around the 11 o'clock timeframe. So a lot of those plans are being developed in and implemented as -- speak. I do want to comment that we've had a tremendous response from numerous agencies. In support and an opportunity last night to kind of -- around the perimeter and and chuck on the folks and just a lot of help from outside. Areas but all trying to read the list. Obviously we have the el paso county sheriff's while and fire team. The tri lakes fired matter -- Denver. Colorado Springs fire department has played. A huge role in this and -- are really. A great partner. Black forest fell again. Air academy -- -- hills south metro Denver Pueblo -- bill. Brush Cripple Creek Hanover kit Carson. Fountain Ellicott Glenn eagle cascade -- security. Fort Carson in crystal part. Which I think is a majority of the fire districts in El Paso County in you can. Imagine the distance some of them traveled when they're coming from -- arsonists then as well as. Led bill. Law enforcement. We've had tremendous support from the Colorado state patrol. CS PB monument. Palmer lake. And they've just done a fantastic job. Number -- -- helping with evacuations in the traffic flow as well as providing security. Today will be beefing up some of the guard resources. And make sure that the areas that are evacuated there were not active with fire fighting efforts. There we have active patrols taking place in those communities I know there's been some. Concern expressed to our office and I just want to assure people. We are doing everything we -- with the resources we have and keeping him in those areas. As well as keep an eyes on the conditions so they can feed that back to the incident command. That I think the next phase as gonna move into is a lot commissioner -- -- talk about the disaster recovery cinema before I give -- the Mike. All open it up to just a few questions and we'll start right here. Well -- the aerial resources. Started really yesterday. And we had two chinook helicopters from out of Fort Carson. For a total of I want to say we've had about six helicopters one fixed wing so far. And they have come to the military resources obviously have come from Fort Carson -- one hell attack. Helicopter. That is under contract with the Forest Service but I think it's based here locally up north -- -- still. Terms of fire personnel on the ground. You know I don't know if I could comment really on -- we stretch then you're talking about 47 square miles with a leading edge of the fire that was pushed. Over a lot of area and left a lot of unburned fuel. Com and then you know you have some guys some of those that are really focused on structure protection and others are wild land fire. We we did put in a request to the state super. Choose between six and seven. Strike teams which would increase that total we have now by about 50%. And as of this morning I hadn't heard a response but I had assurance from the governor that he would do everything he could to funnel those strike teams here now remember. We have four other fires burning in Colorado. And resources that are here locally -- -- strain on all four fires. But at this point. -- I wouldn't reach out and say we're dying for firefighters or equipment. A lot of times it's it's the logistics of supplying those vehicles. The black forest area lacks. Fire -- systems and you're seeing in the trucks go and engage. And they'll quickly run through their water and and pull out to tankers that are parked in waiting. So you know each of those efforts you're losing time and you're you're you're losing square footage where -- sixty. They the other part how many homes are affected I think we've eclipsed the eighty and probably gonna get up near -- hundred. Last night when I when I drove around of course it was very difficult to see some of the fire activity was so thick. That -- you really couldn't even see the road in front -- you. And just the number of residents that I witnessed. Or foundations I saw I think it's going to be higher than that. But today I think we're gonna get a much better picture of where we really are -- that. And be able to at least identify communities. And try to narrowed down to a beach house to. At this point I would not be surprised if we have crossed over eighty homes and approaching -- hundred. Right now the official call -- 0% containment. -- having said that I will say we help the lines on the east and southeast side I just do not believe were ready to call it contained at this point. Here. Or injured. -- you know we had down. We had people there refused to leave we had people walking out. At at 2230 AM after the fired blown through I can't say that we've had it directly reported to us. -- but part of the the assessment we're gonna be going through is verifying those locations were people did not evacuate. And want -- my worst fears is that people took their chances in -- may have cost them their life. Passenger. I I I asked the question if we have any missing persons reported yet the answer was no. That's only an indicator I know we had people stay in there and I do have concerns that. We could be facing a tragedy that involves people let's hope it's not the case. Those are from -- field and I don't have the number of tankers there will be arriving. When you're talking about fighting a fire over 55 square miles on foot it's a lot. A lot of area in the -- it looks awful small. So they'll do whatever they can be safely as well as take advantage of the closer support. With the buckets in the helicopters. -- -- bomb last night the expense and effort they're trying to to build a defensive position along meridian. Especially in the area where we are seeing a lot of flare ups. Ayers up toward -- ago rode along meridian and neither real successful -- last -- And a lot of that a lot of what they did early this morning. Into the morning was related to create that defensive position in anticipation. Of what the weather's gonna -- -- -- today. So that's a lot of what their efforts were focused on. -- -- -- Got -- and what's the furthest south. Stapleton. So basically from 83 old ranch these dropping into the south picking up Stapleton all the way across meridian -- meridian -- -- And slightly to the -- -- that over toward Easton -- road. All right. -- think it. That. You know we'll get a press release out we're trying to east. And -- Our our our website number one and then. Get it out on on a lot of the other social media venues as well as to the media so they can help get the word out. And and hired you know it's it's. It's one of those things where your very hesitant to say this house this fine. When we have so much fire activity so if you just understand. Our effort and and our intent just to get you is accurate of information as possible. Com I know I talk to people last night this morning there were standing alongside the roads just want to know the status of their home. And I know it's very important and that is a priority. The my under sheriff is up right now getting -- status update and what we can do to expedite that process. And we're gonna get the information -- in every venue we can. And create lists so if you stay tuned to the local news or give access to Internet we'll have the -- the site up and be feeding that information. And obviously were not -- we're not waiting until we have it all. We're going to be doing it neighborhood by neighborhood and trying to updated so that people are -- well aware the areas that may be delayed the most. We're gonna be the areas for -- to the east into the -- We're we have the most fire activity and were still exists. There they're there. -- -- No -- no cause yet obviously when when we're dealing with houses burning it's not the highest priority. I will tell you that the point of origin is down here in the lower left corner of the map right around the falcon. Shoot Barea. Generally in that in in that vicinity there and the fire originally began to move somewhat to the north. Up toward the cathedral pines and that's about the time the winds kicked in and it started really flowing northeast and then turn to the south and southeast. So that's kind of -- are beginning point. Right there in through this center that is I guess I could safely say were we saw a lot of concentrated destruction. In this in the center of that overall area. Those would all do now so cooperating commissioner highs it appeared he can talk about the county's -- -- -- That was El Paso County Colorado sheriff Terry -- recapping some of the events of today gave us an update about. Before major wildfires burning right now in -- writer near Colorado Springs he says they are far from under control and the number of homes destroyed is on the rise closer to 100 now. Than earlier estimates of between forty and sixty the mandatory evacuations in the area. We'll continue to be if that in effect at least. Through today at the very least he says they're unpredictable conditions heading their way. And they could worsen the situation including wins -- first blow to the east and the south and possibly double back. To the west to cause of these fires is still unknown and obviously the investigation is continuing as well as the effort. To put out these fires you've been watching a live digital report. -- ABC news when returning now to your regular -- This has been a special report from the.
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