Investigators who traveled to El Paso County to determine the cause of the Waldo Canyon fire, have not yet hiked to the area where the fire started on June 23.
7NEWS has learned the fire is still in a danger area, preventing investigators with the U.S. Forest Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office from getting to the source.
"Although they have not yet been able to make their way back to that area to put their boots on the ground, if you will, and supply their skill set, they are in camp making specific plans on how that team will deploy," said Lt. Jeff Kramer, spokesman for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators are sifting through dozens of tips, including photos and video provided by Jane Rynbrandt, a cycling coach who captured the earliest images of the fire.
She was training two athletes on a cycling ride on Rampart Range Road on June 23. She said at 11 a.m., she only saw blue sky. By 1 p.m., when she reached an overlook about 12 miles up Rampart Range Road from Garden of the Gods, she snapped photos of flames and a small plume of smoke. She captured the plume growing, as she and her athletes got into a sport utility vehicle to drive back to the city. On the drive down, she also captured video of two men pulled over in a white SUV. 7NEWS asked investigators about those two men.
"Any vehicles we see depicted or persons that we see depicted in still photographs or videos that are captured in that time frame are important for us to follow up with," said Kramer. "Not because we suspect them of wrongdoing; were hoping they might have some information."
Smoke Seen Day Before Fire Broke Out
Late Friday night, the El Paso County Sheriff's Officer released details of a smoke report in the area the day before the fire broke out. Their statement reads:
"On Friday, June 22, 2012, at approximately 7:49 p.m., a resident in the Crystal Park area spoke with the El Paso County Sheriffs Office (EPSO) and reported seeing smoke three to five miles from their residence. The smoke was described as being in the mountains north of Cave of the Winds.
"The EPSO Communications Center dispatched fire resources from several agencies to the incident to conduct a smoke investigation in Waldo Canyon. Once on scene, those agencies worked together, searched the area and were unable to locate smoke that night. However, since the investigation was challenged by the hours of darkness, it was determined that fire resources would return in the morning to follow up; this is a practice common to smoke investigations which are hampered by low light conditions.
"Fire resources did return the morning of Saturday, June 23, 2012, to conduct follow up. They were still in the area when the calls rang into dispatch centers announcing the visible smoke and fire which is now known as the Waldo Canyon Fire."
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is asking people to call a tip line -- 719-477-4205 -- with any information about how the fire started. Anyone who was around Waldo Canyon or Pyramid Mountain on Friday or Saturday is encouraged to call.
Some Evacuees Allowed To Go Home
Meanwhile, thousands of evacuees received word that as of 8 p.m. Friday, they could go home.
That included residents in the Cedar Heights subdivision, near the south part of the burn area. Cedar Heights was the first area evacuated when the fire started.
The northern part of the evacuated area is trickier. Fire danger, coupled with damage to gas and water lines, are preventing certain neighborhoods from being re-opened.
Use this link (http://www.springsgov.com/units/communications/6_29rentry.pdf) to see the latest map of the evacuated areas.
Where Was Evacuation Trigger Point?
7NEWS wanted to know where the trigger point was on Tuesday, for residents to receive the evacuation notice.
The incident commander plots a trigger point on a map. If flames reach that point, residents of a pre-determined area are evacuated.
"We had trigger points laid out for all areas," said Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard Brown. "As it was moving along and the wind kicked it up, there's all kinds of formulas that we use to predict when we're going to do that because when you just say, 'Evacuation,' it's not like it happens in five minutes. There's time for people to get out."
Residents of the Mountain Shadows neighborhood and Peregrine, had less than an hour to escape. They received the mandatory evacuation notice at 4:25 p.m. Within the hour, homes were reported burning.
"We watched it go from ridgeline to ridgeline right behind us," said Brown.
Tens of thousands of residents dealt with bumper-to-bumper traffic, but made it out safely. However, authorities have confirmed the death of two people inside a home in the Mountain Shadows subdivision. Their identities have not been released but the sheriff's office said next-of-kin have been notified.
Copyright Report a typo or inaccuracyIf you have a news tip or a follow-up to this story, e-mail us.Copyright 2012 by TheDenverChannel.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.