COLORADO SPRINGS — It was a near miss for homes at the edge of the Bear Creek Fire that burned on the Southwest side of Colorado Springs. "It's incredible, the footage I saw yesterday I thought our home was gone,” said Electra Drive resident,” Eric Erlander.
Firefighters faced fast moving flames in dry vegetation and windy conditions. They were aided by wildfire mitigation efforts in the wildland open space, along with work at homes next to the open space. "Reduced the fuels, reduced the spread of fire, reduced the rate of spread,” said Battalion Chief Steve Wilch with Colorado Springs Fire Department, “Mitigation efforts helped keep flames lower to the ground and out of the crowns of trees.” Firefighters are better able to go on the offensive against flames when they are lower to the ground.
The Colorado Springs City Forester teamed with the Colorado Springs Fire Department for the mitigation work in the Bear Creek area. Similar work has happened on hundreds of acres of wildland opens space in other parts of Colorado Springs. Mitigation work has been a years long process.
There is also an education effort by the fire department to get homeowners in and along wildland areas to mitigate. The neighborhood spared from the Bear Creek Fire is one with extensive participation in mitigation. “We worked hard over the years I mean to clean trees, to clear space, to put in rock walls," said Erlander
The hard work just paid off. "These homeowners have come in and really helped the firefighters and it's made their job easier,” said Colorado Springs Fire Department, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist, Ashley Whitworth.” The fire burned up to many homes, but was stopped before any caught fire.
A day after the fire started it was declared 100% contained. Investigators have protected the area where they believe the fire started while the try and figure out what started the fire. They are not saying whether is appears accidental or suspicious.