Park County and a large number of firefighter crews from all over the Park-Teller county area have been battling fires of various sizes for more than a week. The latest fire is by far the biggest.
Named the Springer Fire because of its proximity to the Springer Gulch Campground and Picnic Area in Elevenmile Canyon on the Pike National Forest, the fire broke out at about noon on June 17 two miles north of Elevenmile Reservoir and 3.5 miles southwest of Lake George. By 3:30 p.m., the fire had increased in size to about 200 acres and the first update from the Pueblo Interagency Dispatch Center on June 18 showed the fire at about 450 acres with no containment.
The first day of the fire, more than 150 firefighters, a hotshot crew and tankers worked the blaze, while an investigation for a cause began.
Several areas were evacuated the first day, including Elevenmile Canyon and Camp Alexander Boy Scout Camp. Both areas will remain closed until further notice. By the morning of the second day the Park County Sheriff’s Office issued the following mandatory evacuations: Wagon Tongue Subdivision, Echo Valley Subdivision, Circle C Ranch, Beaver Valley Estates, Beaver Valley Ranch, all of Park County Road 98 and 403. The Teller County Sheriff’s Office issued voluntary evacuation notices for Wilson Lakes, Forest Glen and Blue Mountain. Indian Creek, Valley High and West Florissant Heights subdivisions were placed on alert for evacuation because of high wind advisories.
The American Red Cross has set up an evacuation site at Woodland Park High School in Woodland Park.
By the end of the second day, the fire reached about 970 acres and no containment. The incident update from Pike National Forest stated that the fire is located in extremely rough, nearly inaccessible, rocky terrain that is riddled with old mine shafts. With high winds and abnormally high temperatures forecast for the most of the week, fire danger is considered extreme. A Federal Type II Incident Command unit arrived at the scene on June 18.
At about 11 a.m. on June 19, the fire burn area was 1,100 acres with 10 percent containment. By that time more than 320 firefighters were assigned to the fire along with three helicopters, two air tankers and 29 fire engines.
Spring was the third in a series of fires in Park County. The Weber Fire was reported at about 6 p.m. on June 10 15-miles west of Lake George. It burned about 70 acres before it was fully contained on June 12. That fire was also considered human caused.
On June 14, the lightning-caused Arkansas Fire, was reported to the Pueblo Interagency Dispatch Center in the early morning. It was located about two miles west of Lake George and one mile south of U.S. 24. It was contained to about 30 acres and mop-up operations started on June 15.
There have also been small fires that were quickly doused at Lower Twin Rock Road and on Cedar Mountain Road, both in Teller County. Another small fire was reported in a subdivision behind Paradise Lodge in Woodland Park. It was put out by passersby who called 911 for help. On June 19, because of the potential for more fires and the extreme fire danger, Teller County pulled all of its fire resources from Florissant to Divide, keeping these resources in a more centralized location.
Stage one fire restrictions are in effect in El Paso, Park and Teller counties, most local communities and fire districts, in Pike and San Isabel National Forests and on Bureau of Land Management lands. Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a statewide open burning ban and a ban on personal fireworks.
The Teller County Office of Emergency Management updates its website as news comes in. Check http://www.co.teller.co.us/OEM/EmergencyInfo.aspx for current information. Also residents are being encouraged to register their cellphones and email addresses at www.nixle.com to receive timely updates on this fire and future emergencies.
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Smoke from the Springer Fire which broke out on June 17 near the Springer Gulch Picnic area two miles north of Elevenmile Reservoir on the Pike National Forest. This plume of smoke was photographed later in the day on June 17 from Lake George. As of June 19 the fire had consumed 1,100 acres and jumped the South Platte River in Elevenmile Canyon in two places. Elevenmile Canyon and the reservoir area have been evacuated along with several housing subdivisions in Park County. Photo by Joanne Horst