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Red Cross Wildfire Response Expands

Thea with American Red Cross service dog
"We hope for the best but prepare for the worst, and we are ready to be there for our Colorado residents who need our help." - Jaici Murcia, Regional Emergency Services Director

The American Red Cross opened a shelter in Rifle in response to evacuations ordered for the Ward Gulch Fire near Rifle last night, but placed the shelter in standby mode after determining that no evacuees planned to utilize the shelter.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross continues to operate three shelters and provide food, emotional support, comfort kits and other assistance to residents affected by the Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs.

“Our Red Cross leadership and volunteers throughout Colorado have worked diligently all year to ensure that we have the trained manpower, material resources and partnerships in place to be able to respond on multiple fronts, in multiple locations at the same time,” said Jaici Murcia, Regional Emergency Services Director for the Red Cross in Colorado. “We hope for the best but prepare for the worst, and we are ready to be there for our Colorado residents who need our help.”

Last night, 57 evacuated individuals stayed overnight at Red Cross shelters at the following locations:

  • Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Rd., Monument (51 individuals stayed overnight)
  • Elbert County Fairgrounds, 95 Ute Ave., Kiowa – (2 individuals stayed overnight)
  • University of Colorado Colorado Springs Recreation Center, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs (4 individuals stayed overnight)

    As fire conditions remain volatile in the state, the Red Cross continues to urge residents to take time to create or update their emergency plans and to be prepared; guidance and checklists can be found at or you can download the free Red Cross Wildfire App for Android and iPhone devices and have tips, checklists and information accessible anytime from your hand-held device.

    Since a series of wildfires broke out on June 11, nearly 400 Coloradans have downloaded the Red Cross Wildfire App, and the App has pushed nearly 85,000 notification messages to all Colorado users who have downloaded the app. Notifications include information about red flag warnings as well as updates pulled from wildfire responses being managed via the Federal InciWeb information system.


    Red Cross workers opened a shelter at the Garfield County Fairgrounds, 1001 Railroad Ave., for residents evacuated from a neighborhood in response to the Ward Gulch Fire. The shelter is now on standby, which means that resources are cached so that the shelter can be reopened quickly if the need arises, but that it is not being staffed.


    The Red Cross has seen an enormous outpouring of interest from Colorado residents interested in helping their neighbors by volunteering for the American Red Cross. Nearly 1,000 people have submitted volunteer applications through the Colorado Red Cross Web site.

    The Red Cross relies on a trained workforce of volunteers to provide emergency assistance. We currently are able to meet our operational needs through our existing, trained volunteer work force but we are seeking licensed health and mental health workers who can commit to serve 8- to 12-hour shifts during the work week. Individuals who meet licensing and availability requirements are encouraged to visit and fill out an application.

    “Our hearts are warmed by the huge outpouring of people who want to help others by giving their time through the Red Cross. As we focus on our current response and filling priority needs, we are grateful for your patience and understanding that it may take some time to process such a large volume of inquiries,” said Lori Geres, Regional Volunteer Services Director for the Red Cross in Colorado.

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


    Since a series of wildfires fires broke out earlier this week through 5 p.m. last night, nearly 1,000 people have registered at Red Cross shelters and Red Cross volunteers and partners have:

  • Opened and operated a total of eight separate shelters and evacuation centers in Monument, Colorado Springs, Kiowa, Cañon City, Walsenburg and Rifle (three remain open as of 9 a.m. today)
  • Distributed 671 comfort kits containing hygiene items, toothbrushes and other basic essentials
  • Registered 285 individuals in Safe and Well
  • Served 3,070 meals and snacks (provided primarily by The Salvation Army)
  • HOW TO HELP: The Red Cross provides disaster relief to people completely free of charge, and is able to do so through the hard work of volunteers and the generosity of the public. We thank the public throughout Colorado for their generous support. 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.