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Black Forest Shelter Closes; Red Cross Continues to Help

Black Forest Shelter Closes; Red Cross Continues to Help
Local Red Cross chapters have activated on-call rapid-response teams throughout the state so that the Red Cross can mobilize quickly to respond to any additional wildfires that may occur this summer.

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO., June 18, 2013, 10am – The American Red Cross is ramping up outreach efforts to meet the needs of residents affected by the Black Forest wildfire as they are allowed to return to their homes. Red Cross workers continue to offer services at the multi-agency Disaster Assistance Center at El Paso County Public Health (1675 W. Garden of the Gods Rd.) open 8am- 6pm. Residents can access safety guidance for returning to home, recovery information and resources, comfort kits, grief counseling, and more.

Additional Red Cross aid stations distributing cleanup kits, water, snacks, and offering informational resources and emotional counseling will be open today:

  • School in the Woods (12002 Vollmer Rd., Colorado Springs), 11am-6pm.
  • Hwy 83 and Hodgen Rd., noon-6pm
  • Woodmen Rd. and Black Forest Rd. (Black Forest Square), noon-6 p.m.
  • Cleanup supplies including items such as sifters, shovels, trash bags, work gloves, rakes, paper towels, and facemasks will be available at fixed site locations and mobile distribution beginning Wednesday or Thursday.

    The Red Cross shelter at Palmer Ridge High School remains open for residents evacuated for the wildfire. Last night, 27 evacuated individuals stayed overnight at the Red Cross shelter.

    The Red Cross Wildfire app provides a wide range of tips on returning home and recovering after a wildfire. They are provided below:

    Returning Home & Recovering after a Wildfire:

  • Do not enter your home until fire officials say it is safe.
  • Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.
  • Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles and downed wires.
  • Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety—warn family and neighbors to keep clear of the pits also.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.
  • Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of fire ash and safe use of masks.
  • Wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.
  • Wear leather gloves and heavy soled shoes to protect hands and feet.
  • Cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel containers need to be disposed of properly to avoid risk.
  • Ensure your food and water are safe

  • Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
  • Do NOT ever use water that you think may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
  • Inspecting your home

  • If there is no power, check to make sure the main breaker is on. Fires may cause breakers to trip. If the breakers are on and power is still not present, contact the utility company.
  • Inspect the roof immediately and extinguish any sparks or embers. Wildfires may have left burning embers that could reignite.
  • For several hours afterward, recheck for smoke and sparks throughout the home, including the attic. The winds of wildfires can blow burning embers anywhere. Keep checking your home for embers that could cause fires.
  • Take precautions while cleaning your property. You may be exposed to potential health risks from hazardous materials.
  • - Debris should be wetted down to minimize health impacts from breathing dust particles.

    - Use a two-strap dust particulate mask with nose clip and coveralls for the best minimal protection.

    - Wear leather gloves to protect hands from sharp objects while removing debris.

    - Wear rubber gloves when working with outhouse remnants, plumbing fixtures, and sewer piping. They can contain high levels of bacteria.

    - Hazardous materials such as kitchen and bathroom cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel, and damaged fuel containers need to be properly handled to avoid risk. Check with local authorities for hazardous disposal assistance.

    - If you have a propane tank system, contact a propane supplier. Turn off valves on the system, and leave valves closed until the supplier inspects your system.

    - If you have a heating oil tank system, contact a heating oil supplier for an inspection of your system before using.

    - Visually check the stability of the trees. Any tree that has been weakened by fire may be a hazard.

    - Look for burns on the tree trunk. If the bark on the trunk has been burned off or scorched by very high temperatures completely around the circumference, the tree will not survive and should be considered unstable.

    - Look for burnt roots by probing the ground with a rod around the base of the tree and several feet away from the base. If the roots have been burned, you should consider this tree very unstable.

    - A scorched tree is one that has lost part or all of its leaves or needles. Healthy deciduous trees are resilient and may produce new branches and leaves as well as sprouts at the base of the tree. Evergreen trees may survive when partially scorched but are at risk for bark beetle attacks

    RED CROSS SERVICES: To date, the Red Cross and partner agencies have provided the following services:

  • Opened and operated a total of eight separate shelters and evacuation centers in Monument, Colorado Springs, Kiowa, Cañon City, Walsenburg and Rifle, providing a total of 911 overnight stays.
  • Distributed 933 comfort kits containing hygiene items, toothbrushes and other basic essentials
  • Registered 416 individuals in Safe and Well
  • Served 5,502 meals and snacks (provided primarily by The Salvation Army)
  • Made 365 health and mental health contacts with affected residents
  • Distributed 163 Jumpstart To Recovery Kits
  • HOW TO HELP: If you would like to support Red Cross Disaster Relief go to, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation via your cell phone bill.

    Note: Donations made via text-to-give will be allocated to support Red Cross 2013 Colorado Wildfires Response.

    IN-KIND DONATIONS: The Red Cross is unable to accept small, individual donations or collections of items such as clothing, food or cleaning supplies. The cost to sort, package and distribute these types of donations to disaster victims is almost always greater than the cost of purchasing the items locally, and it is logistically impossible to distribute a wide variety of individual items in a meaningful way.

    VOLUNTEERING: The Red Cross relies on a workforce of trained volunteers to provide emergency assistance. We currently have enough volunteer staff to meet our operational needs and have received more than 1,000 applications from new volunteers. If you would like to apply to volunteer with the Red Cross, visit and fill out an application; please be patient, as current volume of applicants is extremely high.

    Individuals interested in other volunteer opportunities can also visit to browse other opportunities.

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at