COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo – The El Paso County Sheriff now says the huge 117 Fire, burning on the plains southeast of Fountain, has consumed 23 homes and multiple outbuildings and prompted the evacuation of nearly 400 homes.
Seven of the homes destroyed were vacant.
Driving through flames
Stephanie Dieck spent part of the day, Wednesday, helping friends who had lost their home or livelihood.
She said she drove through the fire Tuesday, to get home to save her animals.
“There were flames everywhere,” Dieck said. “Fire was blowing across the road. I felt the heat. It felt like it was burning my arm.”
Dieck said as she drove toward her house, she saw other homes going up in flames.
“When I saw the Humiston’s place go up, and when I saw Teresa’s place go up, I about lost it,” she said. “The only thing that kept me going was thinking, ‘I got to get home to my animals.’ It was devastating. It was absolutely horrifying.”
Dieck said her friend, Jason Bywater, lost his barn and several calves.
“He’s one of the nicest people you’d ever meet,” she said. “He lost his tools, equipment and all of his hay. I was able to make some phone calls and secure some hay, that hopefully will last through the month.”
Dieck said her friend Teresa lost her home in the blaze.
“She’s an amazing person,” Dieck said. “She doesn’t have much, but she’d give anybody in need the shirt off her back.”
Dieck said she felt so bad about Teresa’s loss that she set up a GoFundMe account to help her get back on her feet.
On Tuesday night, El Paso County authorities declared a disaster declaration and asked the state to take over command of the fire. On Wednesday morning, the state announced that emergency funding had been approved to fight the fire.
Additional resources arrived on Wednesday to fight the fire, including five helicopters from Fort Carson.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office tweeted Wednesday evening that if you think you may have lost your home in the 117 Fire, that you please call (719) 323-8736.
Badger Hole Fire
Another large fire is burning in the far southeastern corner of the state. That fire, called the Badger Hole Fire, is located east of Springfield. As of Wednesday, the fire had burned just over 29,000 acres in Baca County and more than 19,000 acres in western Kansas. The fire is 85 percent contained.
Trinchera Ranch Fire
In Las Animas County, the Trinchera Ranch Fire is burning about 2,000 acres east of Trinidad and is zero percent contained Wednesday. Closer to Trinidad, the Broken Ranch Fire is about 80 percent contained but it’s not clear how large the fire is.
Indian Creek Fire
The Indian Creek Fire near Castle Rock, which was caused when a tree fell onto power lines Tuesday, is about 20 percent contained as of Wednesday morning. Officials estimated that fire to be 11 acres in size.
The map below shows updated information for each of the major fires currently burning: