Waldo Canyon Fire
The Waldo Canyon fire refers to the wildest forest fire experienced in Colorado on June
23, 2012. The Waldo Canyon fire began around 6.4 kilometers or 4 miles northwest of the
springs of Colorado. Surprisingly, the fire was fully contained on July 10, 2012, after there were
no smoke plumes could be seen from the Blodgett Peak. The fire actively raged in the Pike
National Forest and the surrounding regions that covered approximately 18,247 acre that is 74
square kilometers. The fire was drearily disastrous since it influenced the evacuation of more
than 35,000 people from Springs of Colorado, Manitou Springs as well as Woodland Park. Also,
the fire causes partial displacement of the American Air Force Academy. Roughly, more than
346 homes were destroyed. The fire cost the Federal Government of America insurance cover of
$453.7 million and above. In history, this is the most destructive fire ever experienced in
Colorado State (Garza & Freeman, 2014).
Waldo Canyon Fire Response
According to Garza & Freeman (2014), the Waldo Canyon fire began roughly at around
June 23, 2012 midday (12:00 Noon) in the Rampart Range valley located at the Pike National
Forest. The cyclists initially discovered the fire on the range through video capture. Immediately
after the information reached the Colorado Springs Fire Department, Air Support was requested
with immediate effect at around 12.24 p.m. however; the helicopters started to sprinkle water on
the raging fire two days later.
More than 70 fire trucks were requested, firefighter's camp was created, and the CSFD
communication system command section unit was enacted. Additionally, the Colorado city
opened its emergency operations station. As well, the city's fire department requested help from
the Stratmoor Hills' fire department, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force
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Station and Cimarron Hills. The Colorado Springs Catamount Wildland Fire Team Utilities
started to establish fire-breaker above Cedar Height (Larsen, 2013).
The United States Highway 24 was blocked at 31 st Street all through toe Ute Pass by June
24. By 24 th , around 11,000 people have relocated from their homes to the shelters erected by the
Red Cross department at the Colorado Springs and Woodland Park.
On June 25, the raging fire crossed to the Queens Canyon after a flaming deer soared
across Rampart Range Road. At Queens Canyon, the fire spread so fast due to the dry terrain,
steep ground and hot weather. The firefighters experienced hardship to contain the fire.
Approximately noon, the 302d Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base produced two C-130
aircraft. The 153d Airlift Wing of Wyoming gave some other two C-130 aircraft. These aircrafts
started to dump retardant around the Queens Canyon region (Garza & Freeman, 2014).
By June 26, there were very temperatures of around 101 o F (38 o C) experienced in
Colorado Springs (Garza & Freeman, 2014). The high temperatures influenced the fast spread of
the fire through the Queen Canyon establishing thick smoke. The fire consumed Queen's Canyon
significantly. The winds blowing from the west at around 65 mph gusts expanded the sloppy fire
terrain to the Mountain Shadows, to Oak Valley and later entered the Peregrine neighborhoods.
The speed of the fire was approximately 2 miles in an hour while it raged towards the city.
Portions of embers were transported by the wind far away (around half a mile) to a distant land
thus influencing numerous fire spots in brushes and low vegetation cover. After crossing to the
Peregrine neighborhoods, the houses fueled the fire, advancing from home to home (Larsen,
On 27 th June, business and people were further evacuated from the Queens Canyonland.
Business like call centers, data research, and data stations along with around 30,000 individuals
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was moved to the shelters (Garza & Freeman, 2014). The Colorado Veterinary Medical Reserve
Organization addressed the affected animals from the smoke-related signs and anxiety resulting
from the original flight terror. Meanwhile, the fire brigadiers along with the Denver Fire
Department together with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) aerial investigation
approximated by the topographical photographs estimated around 300 homes had been
Garza & Freeman (2014) suggests that the fire posed a risk of spreading eastward
towards Crystola and some regions of Woodland Park in Teller County. As a result, the
Specialized Vandenberg Air Force Station, Hot Shots brigadiers, located at Colorado Springs
intervene to prevent the fire from expanding eastwards to Teller County. However, several fire-
extinguishers were affected by the fire. They developed fatigue and significant as well as minor
injuries. Therefore, these fire warriors expressed their safety concerns (Larsen, 2013). For
instance, six fire extinguishers experienced minor complications while 52 others went home
because of tiredness and fatigue. On June 28, the Pikes Peak Community Foundation launched a
Waldo Canyon Fire Fighter Kitty to assist in the efforts towards raising funds that could be used
for food, firefighting tools maintenance, cots, and prevention of any future wildfire mitigation
around the Pikes Peak area.
According to Wakefield (2013), medical response was as well embraced towards the
Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado City. The Memorial Health System (MHS) department of
emergency dedicated nurses as well as physicians to treat the fire casualties. The hospital treated
people, both young and old who experienced breathing difficulties because of the effect
facilitated by the thick smoke in the region. On the other hand, the University of Colorado Health
(UCHealth) along with the Children’s Hospital Colorado located in Aurora provided aids and
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supplied (Wakefield, 2013). Also, they offered their medical staff to help in attending to the fire
causalities and patients. Also, people of good will from the chipped their efforts in the Colorado
Springs City’s emergency department command in saving critically affected people.
By Sunday, July 1 st , the fire was 55% controlled and managed. However, the city
continued to be under red flag warning because of the smoke. However, on Thursday 5 th , 2012
the Waldo Canyon Fire was 90% contained. More than 776 firefighters and personnel were
involved in the fire management. For theft and security purposes, the National Security Guards
were ordered to keep the evacuated region secure. By 10 July, the fire was managed entirely with
no evidence of smoke at all (Garza & Freeman, 2014).
Enhancement of the Fire Response Approach
In conclusion, even though the firefighters tried their best to contain the fearful raging
fire in less than two weeks, there were some mistakes there are some effective strategies if
incorporated could have hastened the containment of the fire. Wildfire like Waldo Canyon Fire
could be battled by combining both traditional approaches like firebreaks and technological
procedures like the use of drones and satellite imaging that would monitor the progression of the
fire. The firebreaks were not established early enough to prevent the fire from spreading further
to the Queens Canyon land on 25 th . The firefighters could have created firefighters crew and
bulldozers that could avoid the flaming dear from crossing over to the dry area of Queens
Canyon. Also, the fire brigadiers could have erected fire horses along the Waldo Canyon region
edges at an interval of 100 feet or 30 meters apart. These critical improvements could have
prevented the Waldo Canyon fire from spreading to the Mountain Shadows, to Oak Valley and
later entered the Peregrine neighborhoods (Larsen, 2013).
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Garza, M., & Freeman, S. (2014). Waldo Canyon Fire. Retrieved from
Larsen, J. A. (2013). Dealing with Disaster. In Responding to Catastrophic Events (pp. 3-12).
Palgrave Macmillan, New York. Retrieved from
Wakefield, T. H. (2013). An ontology of storytelling systemicity: Management, fractals and the
Waldo Canyon fire (Doctoral dissertation, Colorado Technical University). Retrieved