Waldo Canyon Press Conference, 6/27/12

Latest fire map, 6/27/12
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Various fire officials greeted the media after a difficult night battling the Waldo Canyon fire.

After the fire breached the Colorado Springs city limits and destroyed an unknown number of homes, residents woke up Wednesday filled with questions, which officials did their best to answer.

"It was a tough day for the city, the forest...everyone," Forest Supervisor Jerri Marr said as she opened Wednesday's press conference.

"But we've had way more successes than we have failures," Marr added.

Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard Brown echoed Marr's sentiments.

"Don't be deceived by what you see, this is not a defensive situation by any stretch...we're in offensive positions, doing everything we can to save homes," Brown said.

Officials acknowledged that the fire grew exponentially Tuesday, exploding from 6,000 acres to 15,324. The fire remains 5 percent contained; the one positive development Tuesday was that containment lines near Cascade and Cedar Heights continued to hold, allowing containment to stay the same despite the fire's growth.

The fire continues to stay on the north side of Highway 24. It slopped over the highway slightly, but crews were able to quickly mop it up, Lt. Jeff Kramer with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said.

Kramer, a Colorado Springs native, called Tuesday's fire activity unprecedented for the city.

Officials said they expect the fire to burn for a long time, but are doing their best to slow the growth. The entire fire is being focused on Wednesday, with crews positioned on all sides, actively engaged in combating it. Containing the fire on the Colorado Springs side is a major objective, as is building a containment line on the side facing Woodland Park.

Crews brought the fire line into Rampart Reservoir Tuesday, and say it appears to be holding.

Officials are also in the process of doing a damage assessment of homes in the neighborhoods impacted by the fire Tuesday. No list of damaged homes is available at this time.

There is currently no confirmed cause for the fire, and despite rumors swirling around, officials say there is no suspect or person of interest in the fire.

Additional Notes

The El Paso County public health director spoke at the press conference, and urged residents to stay indoors. She said the air quality throughout the county, not just the northern half of the Springs is very unhealthy.

Colorado Springs Utilities are fully functional, nothing has been lost.

Mayor Bach praised the community for a successful evacuation, pointing out that 26,000 people evacuated with no injuries. No one has been unaccounted for in the fire.

The current Red Cross shelters--Lewis Palmer High School (1300 Higby, Monument, CO) Cheyenne Mountain High School (1200 Cresta Road) Southeast YMCA (2190 Jet Wing Drive)--still have room. Same goes for Summit Elementary in Divide.

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