People watch as Bear Creek Fire grows in their backyards

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Living on the west side of Colorado Springs means always being prepared to leave home in a moment’s notice in case a fire sparks. Thursday, several people living to the east of Bear Creek Park witnessed the fire grow rapidly on the other side of the open space, hoping firefighters could gain control.

At 7 p.m., the fire is 50% contained after hours of ariel and ground attacks by firefighters fought back flames from people’s homes.

“Looking at it, it’s just getting bigger and bigger,” said Michael Lewis as he watched the fire grow Thursday afternoon. “A lot of people don’t want to admit they’re scared, but what else can you be looking at that? It’s a lot different than the movies.”

Lewis was picking up his wife from work near the fire as he watched the smoke pour from the park.

“You start worrying about people’s houses and things like that. I saw some people parking and just crying,” he said.

Hundreds of people were evacuated because of the fire, several more homes were under pre-evacuation notice. Kris Cassidy and his family were some of the ones being told to get ready, but living in Colorado Springs for 16 years, the preparation has been built into his life.

“We’re concerned,” said Cassidy. “We’re going to go back and make some preparations what we need to evacuate. We have a pretty good idea anyway, we’re always pretty prepared.”

Paula Hergert also lived in the area for nearly 20 years. She and her friends were texting each other to make sure everyone was okay and had a place to go if they needed to leave home. She lives close to the park and hikes the Section 16 trail often, a trail which starts very close to the where the fire originated.

“I have just kind of been waiting for this to happen because we’re so dry and it just feels like this area of mountains was kind of ripe for a forest fire,” Hergert said. “Especially after Waldo [Canyon Fire] and then the Black Forest Fire happened and put this on top of a pandemic and it’s kind of hard to even think about it.”

She said she knows people who lived in the neighborhoods wrecked by the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 and is always worried for the families and people who live closer to the flames than she.

“I hope and pray for all of the families that might be at risk and hope they have family close to home where they can stay and feel comfortable and at peace,” Hergert said.

Colorado Springs Fire Department said no structures have been lost, though flames had gotten to the back lines of people’s properties.

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