COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A three-alarm fire at the Colorado Springs Airport grounded all flights and forced the entire building to evacuate.
CSFD firefighters responded to a three-alarm fire at the Colorado Springs Airport overnight. Photo from KKTV.
It took firefighters more than four hours to contain the flames, which broke out on the roof on the west side of the airport. The fire was declared fully contained just after 3 a.m.
"I was just downstairs working at Avis Budget [car rentals]," employee Tony Frost told 11 News. "All of a sudden some guy runs downstairs screaming that there's a fire. I thought it was a joke at first."
"There was an announcement that just said, 'Colorado Springs Airport, evacuate the airport now,'" said Dannika Roggie, who was picking someone up at the airport.
Frost, Roggie and everyone else in the airport immediately cleared the building, while inbound travelers found themselves suddenly trapped on their planes.
"We ended up sitting on the tarmac for about three hours," passenger Maddison Russell told 11 News.
Lt. Doug Pape with the Colorado Springs Fire Department said firefighters could see flames shooting from the roof before they even got to the airport.
"As we were approaching, we could see the flames from several miles off ... there was quite a bit of smoke production."
More than 60 firefighters battled the blaze. Pape described the firefight.
"We set up our aerial ladder and attacked the fire from the outside. Then we sent crews to the inside to make sure we didn't have any fire to the inside of the building."
He said firefighters were met with several obstacles as they worked to extinguish the fire.
"Challenges was water supply. We had to do relay pumping to aerial operations ... locating the fire, finding the extent and the nature of the fire, and just access was probably the biggest issue. We have water supply, but there wasn't any right in front of us like there would be for a house fire, so we had to have a fairly long lay-in. That delayed a little bit, the operations of getting water on the fire."
Pape said the fire was in the insulation of the roofing material, which can sometimes hide smoldering areas.
"To make sure that we were completely out on such a large structure, we took our time making sure we had no re-ignition," he said of why it took crews so long to get the fire out.
Investigators are now trying to figure out what started the fire. Airport spokesperson Aidan Ryan said the structure sustained smoke and water damage but did not elaborate on the extent of damage.
Ryan said in a 6 a.m. briefing that a reclamation crew and air hygenist were en route to the airport to assess any health hazards and make a determination on when the airport can reopen.
Employees are told to report to the field shop for their regularly scheduled shift.
All flights in and out of the airport are canceled Tuesday. To reschedule your flight or for more info on Tuesday's flight schedule, call the following numbers:
Fifty-six flights are affected, according to the airport. The airport will reopen Wednesday at 3:30 a.m.