Public Safety

Pueblo Conservancy District

The levee that protects much of downtown Pueblo from potential floodwaters in the Arkansas River is about to get a major facelift. After levees failed in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, FEMA made a push for levee certification. And for Pueblo’s aging Arkansas River levee this means an estimated 15 million dollar repair project and the destruction of its famous mural. The alternative is downtown properties would have to buy flood insurance. The process has brought to the forefront structural deficiencies.
 

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is planning a prescribed burn of 180 acres starting Monday.
 

The goal is to minimize fuel levels, mitigate wildfire risk, and to help protect the communities surrounding the monument. The fuels are mainly ponderosa pine and grass.

Florissant Park Ranger Jeff Wolin says there are specific conditions that need to be met before the project can start.

Kate Perdoni / KRCC

It’s been over a year since the East Peak fire in Huerfano County challenged the largely rural area’s resources. It came at a time when other fires were burning throughout the state, including the devastating Black Forest fire. Huerfano County’s volunteer fire protection district was the first responding agency to the southern Colorado blaze. KRCC’s Kate Perdoni reports on the challenges of the volunteer agency in the wake of the East Peak fire.
 

In many parts of Colorado when you dial 9-1-1 to report a fire, the firefighters who arrive to extinguish it are volunteers. These firefighters have other jobs, and serve half of the state’s population. But Colorado has an ever-shrinking pool of volunteers, leaving many communities at risk.

Fort Carson officials are encouraging personnel on the base to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behavior after two shots were heard on the Mountain Post Monday night, prompting increased security measures. Military police are investigating the reports that say the shots were heard near the northwest perimeter of the base just before 8:00 PM.  Officials say this was not an active shooter event, and there’s no immediate danger. No suspects are in custody.

Colorado's Volunteer Firefighting Corps Face Staffing Issues

Sep 2, 2014
Joe Mahoney / Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

Volunteer firefighters protect about half of Colorado’s residents, with solely volunteer departments being responsible for about 70 percent of the state’s land surface.

And they are significantly understaffed.

The Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association estimates that Colorado is short 3,500 volunteers in meeting National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. That would require an increase of more than 40 percent to the present force. 

Fort Carson is conducting a full-scale crisis exercise Tuesday and Wednesday.  The training is expected to feature a simulated car bomb near Prussman Chapel on the Mountain Post.

Those on base can expect road closures from 5 am until 3 pm Tuesday, specifically Prussman between Berkeley and McGrath, and Porter Street. McGrath will be down to one lane for about a block.  Detours may also be in place.

The annual exercise tests emergency response procedures.  Previous simulations include chemical spills, terrorist attacks, and winter weather.

Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey is apparently no longer with the department. A statement from the fire district says Chief Harvey cleared his personal items out of his office on Wednesday. Harvey has been on medical leave since early June, and the Board of Directors was looking to schedule a meeting with him to discuss his condition and his intentions.  The board then learned Harvey had said elsewhere that he was no longer employed.

Impacts from rains like Wednesday’s downpour in El Paso County are lessened due to mitigation work that’s taken place.  KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

Williams Canyon is getting new rain-monitoring equipment from the Colorado Department of Transportation and the US Geological Survey. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports on the installations taking place this week.
 

The new equipment looks to complement the devices installed in Waldo Canyon last year, and are intended to allow CDOT to see the progression of floods as they move toward Highway 24. The new gear includes a real time video feed camera, a remote radar gauge, and an additional rain gauge.

100 boy scouts were evacuated early Tuesday morning from the Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch in Southern CO when heavy rains caused a nearby creek to rise. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

As a precautionary measure, the scouts moved to a Red Cross shelter in Walsenburg. Scout Executive for the Santa Fe Trail Council Michael Stewart says this incident and last year’s East Peak Fire have given them an opportunity to teach the scouts hands-on environmental awareness.

Public safety crews in Southern Colorado are gearing up for this Independence Day weekend. As KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports, that includes being on the lookout for illegal fireworks.
 

Recent wet weather means Colorado Springs is bringing back its annual fireworks display, but hot and dry weather is in the forecast. 

Colorado Springs Deputy Fire Marshal Kris Cooper says that means fire danger is still a reality.

Smoke and haze has moved into Colorado from fires in Arizona. 

The Coalition for the Upper South Platte is looking for volunteers to help with flood mitigation projects along Highway 24 this month. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.

Volunteers are needed to help seed land and create sediment catchment basins in Cascade. These projects are intended to slow or redirect water to help protect against erosion and reduce the risk of property damage. Lisa Patton is the volunteer coordinator for CUSP. Patton says the Waldo Canyon burn scar is already suffering.

Manitou Springs is conducting a full-scale test of their emergency siren tomorrow (Thursday). KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports. 

The siren test is planned for 12:00 noon. It’ll play a high and low tone and a spoken message indicating it’s only a test.

The siren system is housed at city hall and is intended to help residents be aware of when there’s an emergency and to instruct them in what to do. The siren has specific alert messages to warn citizens for each type of incident.

UPDATE (Monday, 06/02 8:00 PM):  All evacuation orders have been lifted; the fire is 100% contained. Mop up will continue and the area will be monitored over the next several days.

UPDATE (Monday, 06/02 11:45 AM): Huerfano County Emergency Dispatch says residents north of Twin Ridge Dr. on Four Mile Canyon Road to CR 312 may return.  Residents south of Twin Ridge Dr. on Four Mile Canyon Rd. are still under an evacuation notice.  The fire is 80% contained, with a burn area of 15 acres.

Area residents looking for more information on a planned wildfire mitigation project in the Upper Monument Creek area are invited to public meetings. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.

The proposed mitigation project on the Pike and San Isabel National Forests looks to treat about 25,000 acres of land in El Paso, Douglas, and Teller counties.

UPDATE:  The Red Cross Shelter has closed as of 11:23 PM.  Highway 24 has reopened.

Original post:

The Red Cross has opened a shelter in Manitou Springs for those affected by potential flooding tonight, Friday, May 23. It's at the Historic Manitou Congregational Church, 103 Pawnee Ave.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo has issued a flash flood warning until 11:15 tonight for northwestern Pueblo County, northeastern Custer County, Teller County, and western El Paso and eastern Fremont Counties.

Colorado Springs residents may see smoke, fire, and emergency personnel just south of the city’s airport Thursday morning.
 

It’s an exercise from the Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management and will simulate an airplane crash and hospital patient in-processing. Emergency Management Coordinator Erin Duran says 140 service members from Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base will even act as crash victims, complete with stage makeup.

CSFD

Investigators are on the scene at the Martin Drake Power Plant in downtown Colorado Springs after a four-alarm fire broke out this morning at the facility. The fire department reports two Utilities workers suffered minor injuries, one of whom was transferred to the hospital.  There are no reported injuries to firefighters.

At a press conference this afternoon, Fire Chief Chris Riley said only one of the plant evacuees suffered a minor injury.

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One of the key wildfire prevention measures of this year’s legislative session is in jeopardy of failing. The proposal has cleared the house, but as Bente Birkeland reports it faces new opposition in the senate.
 

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A bill aimed at creating new penalties for cyber bullying failed in the senate judiciary committee on Wednesday. The sponsor reluctantly asked lawmakers to postpone the bill, saying it needs more study. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

Colorado’s $23 million budget is nearing the end of its legislative journey after floor debate in the senate Thursday. As Bente Birkeland reports, the senate made one noteworthy change to the house’s version.
 

Manitou Springs officials are inviting residents to a community forum Saturday to talk about disaster preparation.  KRCC’s Rachel Gonchar has more.
 

Mayor Marc Snyder, Police Chief Joe Ribeiro and City Administrator Jack Benson will deliver progress updates on fire and flood mitigation projects.

Manitou Springs Emergency Fund (MERF) spokesman David Hunting says the city is about to start a bidding process for Williams Canyon and Canon Avenue work, and has made some progress on clean-up progress.

The Pueblo Police Department is running a 45-day trial of a new interactive crowd-sourced crime fighting platform.  KRCC’s Eliza Densmore reports.
 

The platform is called CrimeSuspect.Net and equips citizens with the ability to help law enforcement fight local crime.

Pueblo Media Systems Administrator Bobby Cuomo says real-time tips from the public can serve as an extra set of eyes to Pueblo’s police department.

Lawmakers on Colorado’s powerful joint budget committee are skeptical about finding money for an aerial firefighting fleet for the upcoming wildfire season. A report from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control recommends spending $33 million on spotter planes, small air tankers, helicopters, and leasing large air tankers for wildfire season.

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Even in 2014, many parts of the Colorado are still not connected to the Internet – and if they are it’s not at high speeds. A package of bills to reform and update the state’s telecommunications industry cleared its first committee at the state capitol on Tuesday.
 

Similar proposals have failed in the past, but this year there’s more momentum and strong backing from the Governor’s office. Supporters say the flagship measure would redirect some of the money currently used to pay for high cost land lines into building broadband in underserved areas.

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A bill to ban talking on cell phones while driving failed in the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday. Two Democrats joined Republicans in defeating the measure.
 

The hearing was emotional at times and lawmakers were brought to tears after Shelly Forney from Fort Collins testified about her 9 year old daughter Erica’s death. Erica was biking near her home when a woman talking on her cell phone hit her with her car.

Colorado Springs officials will talk flash floods along Douglas Creek at a public meeting tonight. KRCC's Eliza Densmore reports.
 

The meeting is expected to provide education and updated information about increased flash flood risk due to the Waldo Canyon burn scar, including the city’s planned response to a flash flood.

The Black Forest Fire/Rescue District has released some of the findings from an independent investigation into Fire Chief Bob Harvey’s response during last year’s devastating blaze.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports.
 

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