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Pawnee Fire serves as reminder to prepare for wildfire season

Posted at 10:42 PM, Apr 07, 2019

EL PASO COUNTY – All evacuations have been lifted and a cause is being investigated after a wildfire sparked south of Colorado Springs Sunday.

It’s called the Pawnee Fire, and it impacted people west of Highway 115 near Cheyenne Mountain State Park, forcing some neighborhoods to be evacuated for a time.

“[I saw] a lot of smoke at that point and I realized, it’s time to go,” said Rick Radle, one of the neighbors evacuated.

“We’ve been here 42 and a half years, it scares me when I see fire,” added another neighbor, Billy Joe Stephenson.

But these neighbors put their trust in firefighters.

“I’m pretty sure they can get control of it, you know, so I hope they do,” Stephenson said.

Firefighters managed to do just that, containing the fire to a little less than three acres.

Even though it was a scary moment for folks living in the almost 20 homes that had to be evacuated, it ended up just being a close call.

No homes were damaged and no one was injured, thanks to the work of firefighters.

“Firefighters have been having to hike in by foot and use a lot of hand tools to get that fire knocked down and again, they’ve done a tremendous job,” said Ryan Parsell, a spokesperson for El Paso County.

And just as firefighters are always prepared, everyone can help them by doing the same.

First, it’s important to have a solid evacuation plan in place.

“I don’t know if we ever can be ready enough but we need to make another plan or re-evaluate some things, make sure we’re more ready if something like this comes up again,” Radle contemplated.

Second, fire mitigation cannot and should not wait.

“We’re in a semi-arid environment, conditions can change quickly and it’s never too early to start thinking about the next fire season,” Parsell pointed out. “So if you live in an area that maybe could use some mitigation work, it’s not too early.”

The cause of the fire is still unclear at this point.