Cadets Help Waldo Canyon Fire Recovery

The Air Force Academy says this is only the first Mountain Shadows clean-up effort that will held in the upcoming months; three more are planned for fall 2013. (Credit: KKTV)

Dozens of Air Force Academy cadets gave up their Sunday to offer assistance to residents of Mountain Shadows, who are still cleaning up after the Waldo Canyon Fire devastated their neighborhood.

Originally estimated at 70, by the end of Sunday more than 100 cadets turned out to help clear brush, trunks and branches still littering sections of the neighborhood. They started at 9 a.m. and worked through much of the day, visiting over 25 homes. Residents say they are thankful for the cadets' hard work.

"This has been our third attempt to get everything out of here, and it's just been a monumental task," homeowner Carol Reinsma told 11 News.

Cadets say it's the least they can do for these residents, who live right up against the AFA southern border.

"This community provides so much for us, our home being here at the Academy, so it's a pleasure and an honor to give back," Matt Bowyer of the AFA said.

The Academy says Sunday's efforts were the second stage of the clean up. At this time last year, more than 300 cadets were helping homeowners remove damaged material and charred wood. They worked with the Colorado Springs Forestry Office and about 90 homeowners.

The Academy will be back in Mountain Shadows at least three more times this fall for more clean-up efforts.

The Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed 347 homes in June of 2012, all in Mountain Shadows. The fire also reached the boundary of the 28-square-mile Academy campus.