On Tuesday afternoon, the Waldo Canyon wildfire unleashed waves of flames towards the neighborhoods north and west of Colorado Springs, forcing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate the area. Interstate 25 was bumper to bumper with cars as ash fell all around them on highways eastbound out of the area. People taking to Twitter described the scene as ‘an apocalypse’ and ‘terrifying.’
Evacuations ordered covered north of Garden of the Gods and west of I-25. This includes Woodmen Valley, Rockrimmon and Pinon. The housing area in Pine Valley that is south of the Air Force Academy was also evacuated. Then, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the academy was evacuated.
Jared Baker was stopped by police at the intersection of Woodmen Road and Corporate Center as evacuees streamed past him. Baker was trying to return to his home in Rockrimmon to evacuate his mother and grandmother, who do not drive and who are on oxygen.
“I’m just trying to remain as calm as possible. I know others are in the same situation and I am trying to remain calm.”
Belinda Brown, 35, stopped her vehicle to videotape the flames on the horizon. Close to a dozen flames could be seen by Brown.
“My house is right over there,” Brown said as she pointed towards a flame. Brown and her family were evacuated by military police Tuesday afternoon. Brown’s husband is in the Army and returned home from Iraq recently. The family moved into their home in Pine Valley not too long ago and they do not have fire insurance, only flood insurance.
“We moved here and this happened.” Brown and her family are going to stay at a friend’s home.
Matt Bayer, a clerk for the Econo Lodge on Kelly Johnson Drive was at capacity, with half of the visitors being refugees from the fire. Bayer said his home is fine but his parents had to be evacuated from their home in a Mountain Shadows subdivision. Bayer said that if the home burned, ‘that would be devastating.’