Colorado Springs Fire Spreads to Tourist Areas: Pikes Peak, Rocky Mountain Park

  @ceylanwrites on June 25 2012 2:51 PM
Colorado Wildfire
The vast new Colorado wildfires that erupted on Saturday and spread through Colorado Springs are posing threats to tourism areas close to Piles Peak and Rocky Mountain Park. REUTERS

The vast new Colorado wildfires that erupted on Saturday and spread through Colorado Springs, are posing threats to tourist areas close to Pikes Peak and Rocky Mountain Park. 

Evacuation orders have forced 11,000 residents and tourists out of the area throughout the weekend, and while many were allowed to return on Monday, the smoke and haze has obscured Pikes Peak, the Associated Press reported. 

Many tourists who have been following the blaze through the media have cancelled their trips to the area, even though the evacuation was lifted at the bottom of Pike Peak. 

The manager of the Blue Skies Inn on the skirt of the Peak, told the AP that his business is still in danger-from edgy tourists who are avoiding the area due to the fires. 

Colorado is undergoing one of its most severe wildfire seasons ever, with seven wildfires burning Sunday morning. The Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs, which was the larger of the two fires that broke out Saturday, has caused some 5,000 residents of Manitou Springs to evacuate their homes, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

The temperatures are going to start going up, the humidity is going to start going down. That's when fires can change their behavior dramatically, the Rev. David Hunting, the Manitou Springs fire department's chaplain and public information officer, told CBS News on Sunday.

Meanwhile, another fire that sparked on Saturday is in the mopping-up stages, Estes Park fire chief Scott Dorman said in an evening briefing for evacuees, reported by the Reporter Herald.

Estes Park, which is near Rocky Mountain National Park, is recovering from a blaze that destroyed 22 homes and vacation cabins in the area.

The fire started at an Estes Park cabin at noon on Saturday and quickly spread across 20 acres, consuming 21 homes and cabins in the tourist town. The cause of the fire is uncertain and being investigated. Two large helicopters were sent to put out what was dubbed as the Woodland Heights fire.

A spokesman for the Red Cross told the Reporter Herald that 200 people checked into hospital, but an estimated 80 percent were tourists or visitors and have since left.

Colorado's blazes have demanded half the nation's firefighting fleet, according to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. The U.S Forest Service has asked the Air Force to activate the C-130 cargo planes equipped to drop water, according to the AP. 

Families on vacation in the area have been extremely cooperative, according to CBS New. Some have even been handing out bottled water and setting up cots in evacuee centers. 

We were sleeping for 15 minutes when they started knocking on the door - a day from hell,  Mark Stein  told CBS news as he recounted his first day. He spent the first night of his vacation setting up cots for 200 evacuees.  But I think it's the best vacation ever. This is what the real world is about. There are a lot of people that need help, he added.

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