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'When there's a fire here, not if,' Ute Pass residents can practice wildfire evacuations

9 law enforcement and first-responder agencies host free emergency simulation
Posted at 5:48 PM, Sep 25, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — People who live in Ute Pass can sign up for an upcoming wildfire evacuation exercise. The drill is on Oct. 7th, but you can sign up for free online here.

Families will learn how to safely evacuate from their neighborhoods during a simulated emergency. 

Joe Olds lives in Green Mountain Falls. He was forced to leave his home during the Waldo Canyon Fire 11 years ago. The fire destroyed more than 300 buildings and claimed two lives.

"You open up the [news]paper, a big fire in California and think, 'gee that's a shame then you go on about your business,' it was a shock to have it so close and the damage was incredible of course," said Olds.

Knowing what to do during wildfires is critical, especially for newer residents or vacation homeowners, said Olds. "They don't know, don't realize the danger, these forests can go up very quickly and most people say when there's a fire here, not if."

9 law enforcement and first-responder agencies host free emergency simulations.

"It makes me feel wonderful, to have the support network that we do have, if we tried to do that on our own, we wouldn't be able to pull it off," said Green Mountain Falls mayor Todd Dixon.

Dixon said hundreds of thousands have gone into wildfire mitigation in town. "Mother nature always wins and no matter how much planning and mitigation you can do, if the conditions are right, this whole valley acts like a chimney, it will propagate very quickly."

The wildfire evacuation drill also aims to help first responders from across the region understand emergency procedures.

"That's important to everybody, we've had the Waldo Canyon Fire that affected us we were very much caught off guard here in town so we don't want that to happen again," said Green Mountain Falls Marshal Sean Goings.

Olds said he learned a lot since the Waldo Canyon Fire. "The community really pulled together, I think they would do it again, Green Mountain Falls is a good community within itself and we take care of each other."

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