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Saturday marks 7th anniversary of Black Forest Fire

Saturday marks 7th anniversary of Black Forest Fire
Posted at 9:57 PM, Jun 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-21 14:41:05-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Saturday marked seven years since the containment of the Black Forest Fire.

The Black Forest Fire of 2013 burned more than 14,000 acres, destroyed 489 homes and left two people dead.

In remembrance, the Black Forest Fire Department and BF Community Center gathered together to remember and reflect on one of Colorado's most destructive fires.

Judith Vonahlefield has lived in Black Forest for fifty years. She wasn't home at the time of the fire, but remembers exactly where she was when she heard about it.

"I owned the newspaper the day the fire started. I was working on a deadline when a friend called me and said she saw smoke out to the west," said Vonahlefield. "I hopped in my car and went out to take pictures. I got home about 3 and about 4:30 the sheriff was going- out of here."

Vonahlefield says one of her horses died in the fire. Another horse was severely burned.

Firefighters worked to contain the blaze for nine days. Lieutenant Jamal Davis says he was off the day it started, but was later called in to assist with the fire.

"I came in and initially I was a part of the task force to get things organized because it was pretty chaotic in the initial stages. I was assigned to go out and try to scout the fire to try and head it off," said Davis.

He says his initial reaction to the fire- hopelessness.

"We pulled up to the intersection and there was fire everywhere," said Davis. "The only thing I could think to myself was where do we even start."

His colleague, Lieutenant Rick Robirds, had a similar reaction to seeing the rapidly growing wildfire.

"It was unreal to watch that fire take off. I've never seen anything quite like that," said Robirds.

He says it's been memorable every year since they've had the event.

"It's always been a pleasure to come out, talk to people and share out experiences," said Robirds. "Even for our people in the department. We only have a short number of people in the department that had been there during the fire. We have such new crews, men and women in our department that this is something that this is something that they're learning too."

To kick off the remembrance day, the Boy Scout Troop 70 color guard raised the flag. Various displays were shown and members of the community shared their stories from that day.

The Black Forest community remembers the fire every year. Organizers say it's important to acknowledge the past and ongoing grief, but make restoration plans for the future.