Waldo Canyon Fire: 8 years since the smoke settled

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COLORADO SPRINGS — The 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire scorched through the west side of the city changing Colorado Springs forever.

At approximately noon on Saturday, June 23rd, 2012, it was reported that a fire had begun in the Pike National Forest, approximately three miles west of the City of Colorado Springs, and to the north of Highway 24 in El Paso County.

On June 26th, the fire burned into the City destroying 346 homes and damaging many others. The fire burned 18,247 acres over 18 days and was reported as fully contained on July 10th, 2012.

At the time, the Waldo Canyon Fire was the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history. Tragically, two individuals lost their lives as a result of the fire.

STATEMENT FROM COLORADO SPRINGS FIRE DEPARTMENT:

“We will always remember that day. As we look back 8 years ago today, we remember the losses our City endured, but also we learned that our City can bounce back from tragedy. We are proud to be your fire department and know that we are here protecting you.”

CSFD and CSPD safely evacuated approximately 26,000 residents on June 26th, while effectively fighting a fast-moving conflagration fire in the WUI, protecting and saving 82% of the homes in the direct impact area.

Community affected by Waldo Canyon Fire celebrates 5 years in recovery

City Council declares June 26 as Waldo Canyon Commemoration Day

The scars of the fire remain till this day but now folks across Colorado Springs are determined to re-build Waldo Canyon.  Since September 2018, multiple community partners, including the US Forest Service have come together to make a plan for the corridor.

The Flying W Ranch, just west of Colorado Springs, was destroyed in the fire and finally eight years later they are able to open up.

“I was here on the day on the fire. I was in the parking lot when the fire crested the hill,” Aaron Winters, the General Manage of the ranch said.

He said it’s taken them eight years to re-open because of the flooding and mitigation that came after the fire.

“The city came to us and asked if we could set detention bases up on our property in order to protect the homes in Reed Ranch and the cities stormwater structure,” Winters said.

The ranch has finally built back up their Chuck Wagon area, where before they fire, they welcomed thousands of tourists in locals for supper and a Colorado Western lifestyle.

The restaurant was supposed to open May 21st of this year but was pushed back due to coronavirus. Then they set the open up date on June 26th of this year. Then pushed it back again to July 10th.

“Were all trying to get things back to normal and with COVID we understand. Were just excited to get guests back after 8 long years,” Winters said.

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