Thursday, April 18

UPDATE: One man cited after investigation reveals cause of Akerman fire | News

UPDATE 10:40 pm

One man has been cited on suspicion of firing woods or prairie, a class 6 felony, after public safety officials determined the cause of the Akerman fire was from smoldering ashes from a residential fire pit, officials with the Colorado Springs Police Department announced Thursday night.

Police said 20 structures were damaged.

Two fires that started shortly before noon Thursday in Colorado Springs prompted evacuation orders, with one of the blazes destroying eight mobile homes and the other threatening many more homes.

LIVE VIDEO: Fires in Colorado Springs

The Akerman fire, in northeast Colorado Springs in the Summer Grace Street and Akerman Drive area, reached 25 acres in size, according to a Colorado Springs Fire Department update around 2:30 pm Just after 4 pm fire officials lifted the evacuation order.

No homes or structures were burned. Some homes along with yard fences sustained minor damage.

The fire department said in a tweet just before 11:30 am that firefighters responded to a grass fire near Stetson Hills Boulevard and Peterson Road. The fire spread down a drainage area along Sand Creek and ignited a second fire near Anna Lee Way, firefighters said. Emergency responders evacuated homes between Anna Lee Way and Tutt Boulevard.

Evacuees were instructed to go to UCHealth Park, Colorado Springs police said.

Ridgeview Elementary School evacuated students to Vista Ridge High School, where families are picking up students, said David Nancarrow, spokesman for District 49. Vista Ridge High School had a “secured perimeter” and was otherwise operating normally.

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About 500 homes impacting around 1,000 people were evacuated, according to the fire department.

Staff members at UCHealth Park made refreshments and facilities available for evacuations. The ballpark was open for an in-progress baseball game between Trinidad and Otero junior colleges when stadium officials were notified of the fire.

“We’re providing shelter for people seeking safety,” said Dean McKissock, sales manager and military liaison for the Rocky Mountain Vibes. “And we just happen to have some entertainment on hand as well.”

By 2 pm, a few dozen evacuees had entered the park.

“We got a call (about the fire) at about 11:45,” said Traci Music, who brought her four children to the stadium. “We looked outside and it looked pretty bad, so we just grabbed a few valuables and got out of there.”

Fire Marshal Brett Lacey praised the “awareness and behavior” of residents who quickly obeyed the evacuation order, and implored residents across Colorado Springs to remain vigilant in what could be a busy fire season.

“You’ve got to be prepared. You’ve got to be thinking about this,” Lacey said. “These fires are happening all over the city.”

Also late Thursday morning, the fire department issued evacuation orders for the Skylark Mobile Home Park at 3831 N. Cascade Ave. due to a structure fire that eventually led to the loss of several mobile homes.

Evacuees from the Skylark Mobile Home Park and surrounding mobile home parks were initially instructed to go to Vasa Fitness at East Fillmore Street and and North Nevada Avenue, police said, but later located to Grace Baptist Church at 3500 N. Nevada Ave.

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Eight mobile homes were destroyed, Lt. Aaron McConnellogue with the Colorado Springs Fire Department said during a mid-afternoon news conference.

No injuries were reported, but McConnellogue said firefighters still needed to conduct secondary searches of the burnt mobile homes.

Fire crews battled 50-foot flames as 500-pound propane tanks used to heat mobile homes caught fire, McConnellogue said.

Jeff Mason, 32, evacuated from with his 68-year-old mother and dog Sammie, after he heard “loud bangs” and “booms” outside and spotted propane tanks shooting flames into the air like “fire spouts.”

“When I looked out the window I could feel the heat through the window from the fire across the street,” Mason said

Mason said he and his mother didn’t have a vehicle but gathered with others at the front of the mobile home park waiting for a van to transport them to Grace Baptist Church, where they were met by an American Red Cross Disaster Relief team providing waters , Gatorade and snacks.

Firefighters rescued one wet and soot-covered dog from a scorched mobile home and more pets were seen roaming the area of ​​the evacuation. Anyone who is missing a pet can contact The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, firefighters said.

The mobile home park could remain evacuated into the evening and throughout the night while firefighters search for and extinguish hot spots, McConnellogue said.

Emergency responders asked that only people with life-threatening emergencies call 911 since Colorado Springs police went on priority dispatch due to the emergency response needed for the fires.

Wind speeds in Colorado Springs blew west around 32 mph with gusts up to 53 mph Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

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Firefighters asked people not to fly drones in the area of ​​active fires because it interferes with firefighter’s drones, firefighters tweeted.

This is a developing story. Check with for updates.

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