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Wind worries homeowners living near fire

blodgett peak bucket drop still.jpg
Posted at 3:54 PM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-24 01:21:16-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The Blodgett Peak Fire burning in the foothills west of Colorado Springs was less active on Thursday. However, heavy winds in the forecast remain a concern.

The US Forest Service took over command of the fire response Thursday and commanders have relied on a helicopter to make water drops due to the steep terrain where the fire is located.

Many homeowners are on edge as pre-evacuation notices remain in effect for the Peregrine neighborhood.

Ralph Bellah, Public Information Officer for the USFS said the fire response is two-pronged using water drops from the air and ground crews who are positioned to build fire lines if needed.

"Right now, the helicopter is looking for escape routes and safety zones for them," Bellah said. "And if they see something, they'll definitely get up there."

Cold temperatures Wednesday night kept the fire from spreading. However, weather conditions have been so dry in Southern Colorado that extra water drops are necessary.

"It'll get the humidity up there," Bellah said. "And it's going to be a cold night, hopefully, but I don't know if it will be because of the wind."

Jim Simpson lives in Peregrine and was worried watching the smoke plume develop.

"We've got one of three vehicles packed up and it's gone, the other two I think are going to go today," Simpson said.

He and his family were here during the Waldo Canyon Fire in the June of 2012. They're not leaving things to chance.

"I don't want to wait until the mayor is interrupted in 4:00 news conference like Waldo Canyon and say suddenly Peregrine and Mountain Shadows evacuate now, because it took three hours to get out of this neighborhood," Simpson said.

He's been watching the fire progression through a telescope from his home. Simpson felt frustrated that there wasn't a more aggressive fire response earlier in the day when conditions were mild.

"All of my faith is in these guys on the ground," he said motioning to the Juniper Valley Fire Crews. "I think they're held up by decision-makers and now the federal government, too, is involved in what's approved to be done and what's not."

The Blodgett Peak Fire is currently considered a Type 4 wildfire, meaning very low complexity. Bellah said getting resources to help with the fire suppression is challenging. Incident commanders requested larger Type 1 or Type 2 helicopters to make the water drops but they were unavailable.

"We finally found a Type 3 Helicopter available in Fort Collins. So, we were lucky there," Bellah said. "We're still searching for more resources."

The cause of the fire is unknown.