Flood concern as scorched Waldo areas assessed

       With the Waldo Canyon Fire all but out, attention has been turning toward the flood and mudslide potential in the areas that were badly burned in the 18,247-acre fire.

While donations are being taken at the table next to the stage, nationally touring blues musicians Peter Karp and Sue Foley (on guitars) front their band outside the Gold Hill Mesa Community Center July 15. The fundraising concert was set up on short notice by a local musical booking agency, with all proceeds going to charities that are helping people who were victimized by the Waldo Canyon Fire.
Westside Pioneer photo

       According to the U.S. Forest Service's Waldo Canyon Fire website, the fire burned within five major watersheds in the Pike National Forest: Headwater Fountain Creek, Cascade Creek/Fountain Creek, Garden of the Gods, West Monument Creek and Lower Monument Creek.
       A study of the damage has been performed by a Forest Service crew of specialists titled the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team, which reported the damage as 41 percent low/unburned severity (7,586 acres); 40 percent moderate severity (7,286 acres); and 19 percent high severity (3,375 acres).
       The Forest Service plans to apply for federal emergency stabilization funds; however, the BAER report also states that 60 percent of the slopes in the moderate/high severity areas are too steep for emergency stabilization to be effective, in any case.
       In related activity, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) is working with the El Paso County Department of Public Works, as well as with “cities and communities adjacent to and downstream from the Waldo Canyon Fire burned area to evaluate potential threats to specific businesses, homes, and neighborhoods,” the Forest Service website states.
       The fire itself was declared 100 percent contained July 10. Still monitoring the remains of the blaze are 40 firefighters, the website stated July 18.
       Nearly all of the burned area remains closed to the public.
       The fire started June 23 in the Waldo Canyon area of Pike National Forest. It burned no structures on the Westside, but on June 26 it got into the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, which is part of the Coronado and Holmes school attendance areas, destroying 346 homes.
       The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
       Support efforts are continuing on the Westside, including Honor Our Heroes Day Sunday, July 22 in Bancroft Park from noon to 9 p.m., featuring four local bands and including donated food and items for drawings from local merchants. Organized by a group led by former Old Colorado City merchant Ginny Wesley, the event will honor police and firefighters and seek to raise funds for the Mountain Shadows fire victims.
       Old Colorado City merchants have also participated in fire relief efforts. According to Dave Van Ness, executive director of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, 18 OCCA member businesses donated 10 percent of their July 4 earning ($1,215) to the Red Cross.
       Also, Old Town restaurants donated meals to shelters and to fire and police during the fire, he said.
       A concert July 15 at the Gold Hill Mesa Community Center by the nationally touring Karp-Foley Band also raised money for Mountain Shadows.
       The Lions of Colorado, a service club, announced the donation of $13,419 for Waldo Canyon fire relief.
       El Paso County's temporary Disaster Recovery Center in the old DHS building at 105 N. Spruce St. has been transitioning to the county's Citizens Service Center at 1675 Garden of the Gods Road, which had to be evacuated for a time during the fire. For more information, call 444-8300.
       Other Waldo Canyon Fire information, including tips about flood issues, can be found at the city website: springsgov.com.

Westside Pioneer article