AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo
During the devastating June 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, the City of Manitou Springs, CO was spared any home loss or damage from the fire that destroyed 347 homes in neighboring Colorado Springs. Now, the approximately 5,000 residents of the popular tourist destination are feeling the impacts of a fire ravaged landscape just north of their community. Three recent flash floods (the latest this past weekend) have plummeted down the burn scar located above the area sending boulders, logs and mud into the small city and on to heavily traveled U.S. 24, the primary east-west corridor into the mountains west of Colorado Springs.
The flash flooding has claimed one life and caused several injuries; while also creating a path of muddy destruction in the picturesque town. More than twenty vehicles traveling busy U.S. 24 have been carried down the steep pass like small boats in a fast flowing river; a house was swept from its foundation, and six more declared unsafe to enter, eleven deemed safe for only limited entry and another twenty-three suffered cosmetic damage.
Authorities have worked vigilantly for many months educating residents of the impending flash flood dangers. Agencies are collaboratively working to implement additional measures to make future flooding less severe and to help catch debris and prevent it from moving into the city. The Waldo Canyon Fire consumed the vegetation needed to hold down the mud – and officials anticipate the area could experience flash floods for up to ten years.
Consider including educational information on potential post-fire damage and recovery issues in your Firewise and Fire Adapted Communities presentations to illustrate the full range of long-reaching impacts from wildfires and the importance of wildfire mitigation.