1 Dead, 1 Missing; 347 Homes Lost To Waldo Canyon Fire

Less Than 10 Remain Unaccounted For

One person has died, another is missing, and at least 347 homes on 34 streets have been lost in the Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said Thursday.

The remains of the adult victim were found at 2910 Rossmere St., in the Mountain Shadows subdivision, Police Chief Peter Carey announced during an impromptu news conference late Thursday night. A second adult from the same address is missing, he said.

The police chief said the home was searched after authorities received information about several missing persons.

The Mountain Shadows area was put on pre-evacuation notice about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, and residents were part of the hurried evacuation hours later.

Less than 10 people are unaccounted for after the fire, officials said earlier, although they cautioned that the people simply may not have checked in at one of the many shelters.

The mayor of Colorado Springs talked about the many homes lost earlier, before the death was announced.

"We now know hundreds of homes have been destroyed," Bach said. "We are working through the process, which is very painstaking, of assessing every address to make sure that we have absolutely accurate information on each address. The worst thing we could do would be to put out information that's inaccurate."

Bach also promised an unprecedented effort to help citizens.

"My wife, Susie, and I are going to mount the broadest possible community support," said Bach. "We have companies that want to contribute products and money, individuals who want to volunteer."

The fire was downsized on Thursday evening to 16,750 acres, due to better mapping. Officials said 346 homes were lost but the U.S. Forest Service later changed that number to 347.

A publlic meeting was held Thursday evening at the UCCS Gallogly Events Center for those affected by the fire. The meeting was not open to the general public.

These are the streets where homes were lost in the fire:

- Trevor Lane - Linger Way - Rossmere Street - Tallesson Court - Sandray Court - Majestic Drive - Ravina Court - Regal View Road - Stoneridge Drive - Heartstone Lane - Karamy Court - Lionsgate Lane - Hot Springs Court - Jenner Court - Brogans Bluff - Darien Way - Rayburn Way - Braeburn Way - Timora Way - Mirror Lake Court - Wilson Road - Harbor Pines Point - Yankton Place - Chambrey Court - Charing Court - Courtney Drive - Vantage Vista Drive - Vantage Ridge Court - Huffman Court - Aubrey Way - Van Reen Drive - Alabaster Way - Capra Way - Lannigan Street

Members of the Red Cross and a chaplain's group were available during the meeting.

"Complete disbelief," said Rebekah Largent, who learned her home was lost. "You never think it's going to happen to you. It's just really hard to have lost a lot of the memories that are connected to that."

A list of the destroyed homes will be released Friday morning..

Officials cautioned the number of homes that were burned in the fire could rise.

"These numbers can change by fire behavior as we go forward," they said.

The number of homes destroyed in the Waldo Canyon Fire is the most in Colorado history, according to Micki Trost, public information officer for the State Division of Emergency Management,

A small number of people are unaccounted for in the fire, officials said. Colorado Springs Fire Deputy Chief Tommy Smith said it may be that they evacuated and haven't checked in.

Thorough searches of burned homes will begin on Friday.

President Signs Disaster Declaration

President Barack Obama has issued a disaster declaration for Colorado, releasing federal funds to help areas affected by two deadly and destructive wildfires.

Obama's declaration Thursday makes federal funds available for emergency protective measures for areas affected by the High Park fire in northern Colorado and the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs. Federal funds also are available for crisis counseling and disaster unemployment assistance for affected residents in El Paso and Larimer counties.

No New Structures Lost Wednesday Night

No new structures were lost overnight in the fire, according to Smith. Officials said 20,085 homes and 160 commercial structures are still threatened.

"We were able to hold on to the majority of this fire through a major wind event yesterday," said federal Incident Commander Rich Harvey.

The fire is 15 percent contained, and 32,000 people remain evacuated from their homes.

Fighting The Fire

There are 1,200 firefighting personnel at the Waldo Canyon Fire Thursday. There are 27 crews, 73 engines and six helicopters.

"We remain focused on the entire fire. We have firefighters all around, all perimeters, and they all have plans today to be out there engaged and make progress on containment," Harvey said. "We are holding at 5 percent contained, but we expect that figure to jump dramatically today."

The military has made helicopters available for use on the fire today on an as-needed basis.

A portable retardant plant is being set up at the Air Force Academy to shorten turnaround time and increase efficiency.

"Yesterday was a good day for us," said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Jerri Marr.

And Marr expects Thursday to be a good day.

"Today is the first day in five or so days that we haven't had a red flag warning," explained Marr.

Some Evacuations Lifted

Evacuations were lifted Thursday evening for the following areas:

- Southeast area of Rockrimmon including Golden Hills and Tammaron subdivisions (southeast of Woodmen Rd./Rockrimmon Blvd. to S. Rockrimmon) - Pine Cliff - Kissing Camels (East of 30th street from Gateway Road to Garden of the Gods Road) - Holland Park - Pleasant Valley - The apartment complex at Garden of the Gods Rd. and 30th Street.

Residents of two Air Force Academy housing areas will be allowed to return home beginning at 5 a.m. Friday, AFA officials announced.

They are residents of Douglass Valley and Pine Valley neighborhoods who were evacuated Tuesday when the fire erupted.

Normal operations will resume at most of the Academy on Friday, officials announced.

All other areas remain under mandatory evacuation

Evacuation shelters are still operating on both sides of the fire.

Red Cross Evacuation Centers are at Cheyenne Mountain High School, Summit Elementary School in Divide, Lewis Palmer High School in Monument, and the YMCA. The Summit shelter is reaching capacity, so a secondary evacuation center is opening at Cripple Creek-Victor High School.

The Red Cross has established a number for evacuees at 719-632-3563.

There are several community information lines, available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for people with questions about the fire. These numbers are to the joint information center: (719) 520-7058; (720) 402-7935; (720) 202-4510; (720) 237-9947: (720) 237-3417

FBI, ATF Helping With Possible Criminal Investigation

The cause of the fire remained under investigation Thursday, El Paso County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Jeff Kramer said. It is still not safe for investigators to enter the area where the fire started to probe its cause.

Both the FBI and the ATF are at the fire command post, vetting information and assisting authorities with their search for the cause of the 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.

Kramer said U.S. Forest Service employees are staffing the tip line and have enough personnel to call back some tipsters and interview them for additional information.

GeoMAC Fire Map Updated From Overnight Infrared Info View Larger Map To see this map in movable Google Earth, change the source in the upper right of the map to "Earth."

State Farm Insurance Information

Newly evacuated residents impacted by the Waldo Canyon Fire and insured with State Farm are encouraged to contact their agent right away -- even if they don’t know yet whether their property is affected by the wildfire.

Policyholders can also begin the claims process by calling 1-800-statefarm (1-800-782-8332) or by going online at www.statefarm.com. State Farm claim representatives are onsite to assist policyholders at the following locations:

-- Cheyenne Mountain High School 1200 Cresta Road – Colorado Springs, CO

-- Southeast Family Center/Armed Services YMCA 2190 Jet Wing Drive – Colorado Springs, CO

-- Lewis Palmer High School 1300 Higby Road – Monument, CO

“As this fire continues to spread and new evacuations are being called, we remain at the evacuation centers to be available to our customers,” said State Farm spokeswoman Angela Thorpe. “Customers who have been evacuated should contact us as soon as they can and hold onto their receipts.”

The State Farm homeowners policy provides temporary living expense coverage for homeowners required to evacuate, such as motel and food expenses, subject to their policy deductible.

State Farm is the largest insurer of homes and vehicles in Colorado.

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