Over the weekend, firefighters made tremendous progress on a devastating wildfire burning west of Canon City.
The Royal Gorge Fire is 100 percent contained as of Sunday evening, a huge jump from the 40 percent that crews began Friday at. The fire burned 3,218 acres before it was contained.
Command shifted back to local agencies Monday morning.
There are still some pockets of unburned fuel well within the fire perimeter; however they pose no threat to the containment lines.
The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park was directly in the fire's path and hit hard as it swept through the area. Of the 52 structures at the park, officials said in a news conference Thursday that 48 were lost. Numerous attractions at the park, including the carousel, aerial tram and the cable car, were destroyed. The north side of the park reportedly took the brunt of the devastation, with the entrance, nearby visitor center and gift shop among the structures lost.
It wasn't all bad news out of the park. The iconic Royal Gorge suspension bridge was mostly spared. Thirty-two planks on the bridge were burned, but the structure remains intact.
The animals living at the park also survived.
"All [are] reported to be okay and are being watched closely, receiving fresh water and feed," a spokesperson for the park said in a statement on the park's Facebook page.
The fire was first reported early afternoon on June 11 and rapidly grew in size, fueled by beetle-killed trees. Smoke could be seen as far away as Fairplay, near highways 24 and 9. One hundred and fifty firefighters responded on that day, with more arriving June 12.
The fire resulted in--for the state of Colorado--a first-of-its-kind prison evacuation. Prisoners from the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility were transported by bus to several different prisons Tuesday night. None of the other correctional facilities, including the infamous Supermax, have been evacuated.
As many of the evacuated Fremont County residents return home, it is important to remember that food may be unsafe because of damaged containers or because the refrigerator or freezer was without power for up to 20 hours. As food waste spoils or decays, it can be a health hazard. If your power was off for more than 4 hours, it s time to clean it out!
Do not keep any refrigerated food that may be spoiled or contaminated, including catsup, mustard, pickles, jelly, sandwich meat, milk, juices, etc. If your freezer was FULL, it can hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if only half full) IF the door remained closed.
Any spoiled or smoke contaminated produce or dry food in damaged/contaminated packages should also be discarded. Do not keep any household medicines that were refrigerated and/or were spoiled or contaminated. Please contact your physician for further instructions on the handling and possible replacement of any refrigerated prescription medications.
When in doubt, throw it out!
Dumpsters for disposing of spoiled and/or contaminated food are available for residents returning to their homes after the Royal Gorge fire at the following locations through the weekend (removed on Monday morning):
County Road 9, just north of Highway 50
County Road 69
County Road 3A, near the checkpoint
County Road 61
Junction of County Roads 3 and 28
These dumpsters are for FOOD PRODUCTS only and ONLY for those families and businesses who were affected by a power outage or fire and are now cleaning their refrigerators, freezers, and pantries of spoiled and/or contaminated foods.
Double bag the spoiled food and dispose with the garbage or take to a dumpster site listed.
Remove the garbage as soon as possible to prevent undesirable odors and insect or rodent infestations.
Store sealed trash bags in trash cans with tight fitting lids or in watertight dumpsters.
Commercial Food Facilities:
Food facilities with small quantities of waste food can double bag the spoiled food and dispose in a watertight dumpster or take to a dumpster site listed.
Your water system may have been adversely affected by the fire, power outages, equipment failure from fire damage, or contamination. Be prepared and have plenty of bottled water available for drinking and cooking. Kits to test the safety of your well or cistern drinking water are free and will be available on Monday through the Fremont County Public Health Agency office in Canon City. Kits may also be obtained by contacting the Environmental Health Services Officer, Sid Darden, at 615 Macon Avenue, Room 212, Canon City or by calling 719-276-7460.
Take the following steps to clean refrigerators and freezers:
Remove everything from the refrigerator or freezer.
Use paper towels or rags to wipe up spills and leaks and dispose of them with the food waste.
Wash out the refrigerator or freezer with a strong bleach solution. Use 1½ cups of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Use latex or rubber gloves if you have sensitive skin that may be irritated by the bleach solution.
Wash out the appliance with warm, soapy water.
To remove odors, wipe out the appliance with a mixture of water and baking soda, or keep a box of baking soda in the appliance. You also may want to air out the appliance for a few days before plugging it in and using it again. Secure doors in an open position to provide air flow and keep children away.
For more information on air, food and water safety after a wildfire, visit the Fremont County website at: http://www.fremontco.com
or contact the Fremont County Public Health Agency at (719) 275-1626. Up to date information can also be found on the FCPHA Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/#!/FremontCountyPublicHealthAgency
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