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32,000 Flee Colorado Springs
The article below distributed by Assist News Service provides an update as well as stories from the fires raging in Colorado. We invite you to share your stories as well! Please email your stories to email@example.com or login to our site and post them on the Wildfires 2012 response group.
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (ANS) -- Colorado Springs, a center for many Christian ministries, is under siege tonight (Wednesday, June 27, 2012) as 32,000 residents have been forced to flee the raging wildfires that have also hit six other US states.
"Traffic and smoke choked the streets as people left Colorado Springs and a nearby US Air Force Academy," said the BBC.
"Evacuation orders were issued for much of the city as the fire doubled in size to over 24 square miles and some 800 firefighters have been deployed."
A local newspaper reported the one Colorado Springs hospital has reported it had treated about 20 patients in the last 24 hours for respiratory-related illnesses.
The Waldo Canyon Fire, which began on Saturday, has been fanned towards Colorado Springs by winds of up to 65 mph.
"It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine," Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said after surveying the fire from the air on Tuesday.
"It's almost surreal. You look at that, and it's like nothing I've seen before."
Heavy ash and smoke was billowing from the hillsides west of Colorado Springs and southbound traffic was temporarily closed on Interstate 25, which runs through the city.
Colorado Springs Fire Chief, Rich Brown, called the firestorm threatening his city - in a metropolitan area of more than 650,000 people - "a monster" and said that flames were "not even remotely close to being contained."
Colorado Wildfires Threaten Navigators' Camps
In a story, journalist Allison J. Althoff has written, "Among the Colorado wildfires drawing national attention today, the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs poses an immediate threat to the Navigators' Glen Eyrie Conference Center and Eagle Lake Camp properties.
"The blaze, which has spread over 5,000 acres in three days, was only at 5 percent containment today, reports ABC News Colorado.
"Hundreds of workers are currently on the ground battling the blaze, which has burned down an Eagle Lake tent platform and come dangerously close to its barn, auto shop, and maintenance director's home."
The story went on to quote Melissa Anderson, a 24-year-old Glen Eyrie resident and friend of Eagle Lake's maintenance directors, as saying:
"They've been praying God would raise walls of protection around the camp. Apparently, the fire went through the barn area and auto shop and came all the way up to their house, where the firefighters are fighting it off now. They're trying hard to save the camp and the buildings."
Althoff went on to say, "Fortunately, there were no campers Saturday when the blaze broke out, as the camp is now surrounded on three sides by walls of flame. The horses on Eagle Lake property were set loose to run free for fear the flames and smoke would eventually consume them, and the fire currently looms on the lip of the canyon above the Glen Eyrie property.
"Though the fire hasn't yet reached Glen Eyrie, Anderson was evacuated with her sister and 6,000 other El Paso County citizens Saturday, shortly after the fire was first announced."
"The fire started around noon Saturday, and within 40 minutes of the initial announcement we had to leave," Anderson said. "It was a quick turnaround. We just started throwing random things in tubs, got in my car, and left."
The journalist added, "High winds pose a significant challenge to the fire's containment, but firefighters are currently on the ground at Eagle Lake and throughout El Paso County, fending off flames that threaten to consume the camp and surrounding woodlands.
"We're staying with friends in Colorado Springs, and you can see everything -- even the water getting sprayed," Anderson said. "You can see the flames moving across the ridge -- it's spreading like crazy."
She concluded her story by saying, "Evacuated Navigators employees are currently working out of Focus on the Family's offices, located several miles northeast of the blaze. The cause of the fire is still unknown, though some sources on the ground suspect arson." (ABC News & Paul Asay, Christianity Today contributor).
"Pray for calm winds that will not spread this fire"
Rick Wood, editor of the US Center for World Mission's Mission Frontiers magazine, sent out a message on behalf of himself and his family, which said, "Here is the latest news from fire-ravaged Colorado Springs. The Waldo Canyon fire exploded yesterday into the western side of Colorado Springs growing from 6000 acres scorched as of yesterday afternoon to over 15000 acres this morning. The fire chief called the events overnight, 'A firestorm of epic proportions.' Over 32,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes. Some neighborhoods have been hard hit while others have been spared. There have been no reports on the number of homes lost but there has been much video footage on the TV of many homes going up in flames.
"International Students Inc. (ISI) was having their national conference here at the Marriott hotel when they got the order to evacuate. We took a number of them into our home overnight."
Wood went on to say, "Over 900 firefighters from all over the state are working to contain the fire. Embers from the fire can travel up to half a mile and start new fires so firebreaks like highway 25 may not keep hot spots from flaring up on the east side as well.
"Please continue to pray for all those fighting this fire. Praise God that thus far no lives have been lost and no injuries reported among the fire fighters.
"We are huddled inside trying to stay away from the smoke that is blanketing the city. Lorena is sensitive to the smoke because of her lung condition. Pray for calm winds that will not spread this fire like it did yesterday. This remains a very dangerous and fluid situation."
"We need a miracle and rain"
Lisa Gibson, the executive director of the Peace and Prosperity Alliance (www.peaceandprosperityalliance.org) and a regular correspondent for ANS, told us today: "I live in Colorado Springs, and have been evacuated since Saturday. It has been stressful to say the least. We really do need a miracle and rain.
"Last night, we had wind gusts of 65 mph and the fire jumped three ridges, running down a hill into a subdivision and destroying at least 100 structures. As you know we have quite a few Christian ministries in town and near the fire including Glen Eyrie. My subdivision was the first evacuated and had flames within feet of our homes."
Gibson is a Christian attorney who lost her brother Kenneth Gibson in the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland and now works in Libya to bring reconciliation.
William Agius, who help lead a ministry called the Oasis Project with Mission International (http://oasisprojectinternational.org which is ministering with the Persecuted Church in the Middle East, sent me a message today saying, "Our family is currently based in a small Colorado mountain town called Woodland Park - 30 minutes West of Colorado Springs.
"Today (Wednesday June 27th) we evacuated our home today because of the erratic behavior of this enormous fire.
"Ironically we were supposed to close today on selling our home in Woodland Park and then move to our new small home in Colorado Springs - to our amazement both homes are in the evacuation zones - we not only did not move today we have evacuated our home are now safely at a hotel watching carefully."
Flying W Ranch destroyed in the flames
Candy Snyder, a realtor in Frisco, Colorado, contacted ANS to let us know that the Flying W Ranch, which was an actual working mountain cattle ranch located in the foothills of Colorado Springs, has along with several homes in the Mountain Shadows area been burned to the ground.
A message posted on their website -- www.flyingw.com - says, "We ask that in this sad time that you remember the Flying W and the Wolfe family who has owned and operated the Flying W Ranch since 1953.
"If you have made an online reservation or a deposit your money will be refunded at a later date when we have had a chance to gather our thoughts. We ask that you pray for all the families within the area and assure you we will rebuild.
"All Our Love, Flying W Ranch Management, Staff and especially Ownership."
Each Sunday, services were held at the Church on the Ranch, in the grounds Flying W Ranch, can no longer meet there because of the fire.
A message said, "Please keep us and our city in your prayers during this trial. Graciously, God has provided us the allowance to meet at Penrose Stadium at 9:30 am this week. Penrose Stadium is located at 1045 W Rio Grande St. Colorado Springs, CO 80905."
Fire like a "hell on earth"
Mary Ramos, am ANS reader, has contacted us with the following message: "I live in the southeast side of Colorado Springs and have been praying as I have had to watch my precious city burn, my heart is broken by the devastation I am seeing.
"I am grateful that no injuries have been reported and no lives lost. But there have been many who have lost homes and a possibility of more as this fire will not be contained any time soon, it is growing at a rapid rate. Yesterday afternoon and through the night it was a surreal experience it looked and felt like hell on earth, watching the northwest side of the city burn and people struggling to evacuate these area, homes going up in flames and the city being covered in smoke and ash, the temperature reach 101 a record, with very low humidity, but we have had to keep our houses closed as the smoke has been so bad, and we are being warned not to be out in it.
"I have also watched church doors open to offer help and the love and willingness of so many to offer any help possible. This is a community of people who know how to reach out, maybe in part because of all the wonderful military personal we have here, Colorado Springs is a city that reaches out when the need arises as certainly it has in the last few days.
"I would ask for your prayers for continued safety for all those fighting these fires and the evacuees that this fire would be contained soon and no more homes or structures lost. We have been in a drought for several years and are in a great need for moisture. And most of all that the Lord would be seen as a Father who loves and cares and can turn this situation around for good and His glory. I thank you for your concern and prayers."
Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Chaplains Respond To Colorado And New Mexico As Wildfires Rage
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is in Colorado and New Mexico as wildfires continue to torch large swaths of the nation's west. Chaplains are currently offering emotional and spiritual care in the Ruidoso/Capitan area of New Mexico, and in the Fort Collins area of Colorado. Chaplains deployed to both locations on June 14, shortly after the fires began.
According to a news release, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team said that news agencies are reporting that the "Little Bear Fire" in New Mexico is 90 percent contained. The "High Park Fire" north of Denver, however, was reported yesterday to be only 55 percent contained, and estimated at more than 87,000 acres. The fire has destroyed more than 250 homes. Due to these circumstances, chaplains have begun reaching out to homeowners in New Mexico, but have had limited opportunities to minister in Colorado as the fire rages and survivors remain evacuated from their homes.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team deployed in coordination with Samaritan's Purse, the international Christian relief organization headed by Franklin Graham, who is also president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
"Many of those who have been evacuated and unable to return home have told us that the worst part is not knowing," said Jack Munday, director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. "They don't know if their homes are still standing, don't know if their pets are alive, and don't know if they've lost all they own in this world. Our chaplains are there to encourage the ministry of local churches, and offer a listening ear, practical assistance and support to those affected. We want to bring the compassion and hope of Jesus Christ into this horrible situation."
"We are a tinderbox, waiting to be ignited"
Stan Wilson, editor of Southwest Kansas Faith and Family, has written to us and said, "Dodge City, Kansas has been spared the destruction. But...we've had over a week of 100 plus and at least another week is predicted. This includes July 4 and the 'city fathers' have OK'd a public fireworks show within the city limits and they have legalized private fireworks for 3 or 4 days. We just had one major fire on the outskirts of Dodge which was set by a discarded cigarette. We are a tinderbox, waiting to be ignited."
National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force holds prayer time
Today, National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force, whose office is just 500 yards from the evacuation line, held an urgent time of prayer regarding the wildfires.
Before it began, John Bornschein, Vice Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, wrote: "Please join us for this critical and powerful time of prayer. In the midst of such devastation, the NDP Task Force is engaged in offering what support we can to our local community. We are helping to provide assistance through Care and Share and Mercy's Gate, two local organizations that are providing much needed food and supplies to those who have been evacuated and displaced during this time of crisis. We are also working with the team at Convoy of Hope as they prepare to join in on local relief. Please keep all of these efforts in your prayers!"
A "Wake up Call"
Mary Marr, president of the Christian Emergency Network (CEN) -- http://www.christianemergencynetwork.org -- today held a conference call to brief people from across the United States, about the present crisis situation.
She said in a message before the call took place, "This is a time for all of us to gather in prayer on behalf of those who are responding, Christians to offer a biblical worldview, and for multitudes to come into the fold.
"I will be presenting an update from DHS [Department of Homeland Security] and we hope that every state will be represented on this 'wake up' call to give an answer for the Hope of Christ within us."
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