Precautions taken to keep volunteers and evacuees safe amid Bear Creek Fire

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COLORADO SPRINGS — More than 200 families were forced to temporarily evacuate their homes in response to Thursday’s Bear Creek Fire.

The American Red Cross Colorado and Wyoming Region established an evacuation site outside of Cheyenne Mountain High School. Some Colorado Springs families started arriving at the site shortly afternoon. Many of them were only given minutes’ notice to get out of harm’s way.

Due to COVID-19, a limited number of volunteers were on-site and families were told to stay outside of the school building.

“The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the way the Red Cross responds to disasters in Colorado. The pandemic puts additional stress on families seeking support, which is why we have plans in place to reduce risks—such as social distancing protocols, face coverings, health screenings,” said Thomas Gonzalez with American Red Cross, “The safety of our workforce and the communities we serve continues to be our priority, the Red Cross follows all CDC guidance, and we work closely with local health officials to safely provide help and hope when disasters strike.”

Santisteven started smelling the smoke while working inside her Skyway home.

“We are all a little frazzled, “said evacuee Elizabeth Santisteven. “We grabbed clothes, valuables, and documents.”

Other evacuees didn’t have time to pack up their belongings like Sally whose home is off Southern Cross Drive across from Bear Creek Park.

“Literally grabbed my dog, my phone charger and left,” said Sally. “But that’s ok this is all I need.”

While some families waited for further updates, others were staying positive given the ongoing pandemic and the unprecedented wildfire season the state has seen this year.

“I think it’s more emotional overwhelming pressure all the time everyone is dealing with it you know,” said Becca R. who was also forced to evacuate.

Organizations like SERVPRO of North Central Colorado Springs came out to the evacuation site to help families as well. They gave out water, snacks, and face coverings to families who were waiting for evacuations to be lifted.

“Things like this can go a long way,” SERVPRO employee Austin Green said. “To help people out, if it saves them time to go buy food and water… so they can focus on their family and what’s most important to them.”

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