Waldo Canyon Fire Press Conference 7/1

**As of 6 p.m. Sunday, the fire is 55% contained.
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A special press conference was held at 2 p.m. to update anxious evacuees on the status of their respective evacuation orders.

Oak Valley, Pinon Valley, Peregrine, Grand Centennial Apartments, and all businesses along Centennial and 30th will be permitted to return as 8 p.m. Sunday. Centennial will also reopen at 8 p.m.

Garden of the Gods and Palmer Park have been reopened. The Pikes Peak Highway will be reopened Monday.

--Sunday morning's coverage--

The Waldo Canyon fire remains 45 percent contained with 17,659 acres burned as of Sunday morning.

Sunday's press conference gave the first hint of normalcy returning to the Pikes Peak region, with the announcement that Highway 24 was reopening, first at 9 a.m. for residents living along Ute Pass, then at 1 p.m. for everyone. Officials advised drivers planning on using the highway to keep in mind that fire activity is still going on, meaning there may be some restrictions to using the highway such as reduced speed.

The Highway 24 announcement tied into more good news for residents along Ute Pass--Crystola, Green Mountain Falls, Cascade, Chipita Park--who were given the green light to go home. They will remain under pre-evacuation. Proof of residency will need to be shown to gain Highway 24 access between 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Steve Cox with Colorado Springs said the city will announce a decision on lifting the Oak Valley, Peregrine evacuations at 2 p.m.

Residents of Mountain Shadows will be allowed to tour their neighborhood from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Residents can drive themselves in through two checkpoints: Eagleview Middle School on Vindicator and the Verizon facility at 2424 Garden of the Gods Road. According to the city, Centennial still has closures in place, so those going through the Eagleview checkpoint can exit Rockrimmon or Woodmen to access Vindicator.

For an area that thrives on outdoor activities, officials gave the disappointing news that trail systems near Waldo Canyon, such as the Barr Trail and the Incline, remain closed, as do nearby attractions along the fire perimeter, Cave of the Winds and the Cliff Dwellings. An official with Manitou Springs says they are working closely with incident commanders to determine when it would be safe to reopen these areas.

There has been no word on when Colorado Springs parks and open spaces will reopen.

Colorado Springs Utilities and Black Hills Energy addressed resident concerns about utilities in the evacuated areas. CSU says it will have new information available for residents Monday on csu.org. They did caution returning evacuees to not touch gas meters, and that it may be a few days before gas service returns.

Black Hills Energy also directed customers with questions to their website blackhillsenergy.com. They are still trying to restore service to Crystola and Cascade.

Incident Commander Rich Harvey said that while he is cautiously optimistic about the 55 percent containment, he remains focused on the areas that are not contained, and remains prepared for any worst-case scenarios. There are a lot of crews on the ground on the northeast side of the fire, the most vulnerable side.

Investigators have finally been permitted to get on the ground to begin work on finding a call.

Harvey said some unburned areas inside the perimeter are beginning to catch fire, but that these areas are nowhere near the perimeter and should be no cause of alarm. They are working to save as much unburned area as possible.

The cost of fighting the fire to date is $8.9 million.