COLORADO SPRINGS — More than 200 people were forced to leave their homes as fire crews worked on taking control of Thursday’s Bear Creek Fire.
No structures were burned down, with first responders praising families for doing their part in making sure their homes are mitigated and safe.
Many homeowners say there were caught by surprise.
“We were at lunch, and my husband could see smoke start to billow,” said Patty Smith, who lives in Colorado Springs.
Nathan Warn, who also lives in Colorado Springs, said, “I was actually making visits in the mountains, and my in-laws were with our kids and got the call to evacuate.”
Fire crews defended countless homes from the flames; they say a key to zero structures being destroyed was homeowners taking part in mitigation efforts.
“They did amazing work, the homeowners, to allow us to get in there and fight the fire the way we did, and we didn’t lose any structures,” added Colorado Springs Fire Captain Mike Smaldino.
However, homeowners say previous wildfires have burned through the Pikes Peak Region in previous years, like the Black Forest and Waldo Canyon, which helped them prepare in more ways than one.
“You learn a lot; unfortunately, all of Colorado Springs people learned from others misfortunate,” said Susan Wynasrksy, who lives in Colorado Springs.
From picking up leaves to getting rid of other flammable materials, they say it’s part of shared responsibility.
“There’s so scrub brushes and debris, you got to push it out and clean your property,” Wynarksy said.
At the end of the day, they say seeing their livelihood in tact made every mitigation effort worth it.
“This is proof, if you can’t do it yourself get help,” voiced Smith.
To learn more about available mitigation education programs and how to protect your home, click here.