Cyclists on a training ride along Rampart Range Road captured images and video of the Waldo Canyon fire about one hour after it started.
Jane Rynbrandt is a coach for Carmichael Training Systems in Colorado Springs. She took two athletes on a training ride west of Garden of the Gods along the dirt-filled Rampart Range Road on Saturday morning.
"We were there at 11 o'clock, and it was blue skies," said Rynbrandt. "(We) didn't see anything suspicious."
Between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m., they reached the overlook and saw smoke and flames rising from the forested valley below.
"I rode up to the railing and looked down and saw the flames had started," said Rynbrandt. "It's actually fairly not too big at that point."
She said a fire crew responding told them to get in the SUV an intern was driving and get back to Colorado Springs.
"He was driving a little conservatively, and I said he needed to step on it and he could rally the truck down the road," said Rynbrandt. "As we were driving down, we saw the fire grow and smoke just continue to billow up. It was unreal."
The video shows them driving down Rampart Range Road with the smoke plume growing behind them.
"The fire was spreading pretty quick. There was a point where we watched it roll over the ridge," said Rynbrandt. "While we were driving down the road, the helicopter flew overhead with one of the water drops and at that point I kind of realized how serious it was. Now looking back, realizing that it was a little dangerous, (I'm) thankful that we got down safely."
Investigators Reviewing Video
Moments after 7NEWS interviewed Rynbrandt, an investigator came to her work to talk with her about what she saw and what she captured with her camera.
"We're going to give the videos and all the photos that we have to the authorities, and they can go through it with a fine tooth comb and see if they see anything," said Rynbrandt.
At Thursday's 4 p.m. news briefing, 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger asked investigators how that type of video can help investigators determine who or what caused the fire.
"They'll take those types of things, and not just one video, but probably a series of them -- any still photographs that are available -- try to use different angles that those might depict, to see if it helps them try and triangulate and maybe learn exactly where the first trail of smoke was," said El Paso County Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Jeff Kramer. "When the event really started to unfold quickly, and we had a lot of smoke, that's not extremely valuable, but that very first initial line of smoke; single line of smoke, is."
7NEWS confirmed on Wednesday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in determining the cause of the fire.
However, since the fire started in the Pike National Forest, the lead investigative group is the U.S. Forest Service.
7NEWS asked if the area where the fire started has any roads or is a known campsite.
"It wouldn't be proper for me to talk about it, but I can assure you once we figure out a cause for this fire, I will be sharing with you immediately," said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Jerri Marr.
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