Royal Gorge Fire: 3,800 Acres Scorched, 881 Prison Inmates Evacuated

The Royal Gorge fire has already incinerated over 3,800 acres of land just south of the Royal Gorge bridge and Arkansas river. Four viscous wildfires fueled by high winds and dry weather have had firefighters battling for control on Tuesday.

One of the wildfires started in a wooded, residential area in the northeast of Colorado springs leading to the mandatory evacuation of hundreds of residents and destroying a number of privately owned homes. The Royal Gorge fire has already taken its toll on local residents as well.

It’s been reported that so far the Royal Gorge fire has lead to extensive damage to property and the Rocky Mountain National Park. According to Terry Maketa, the El Paso county sheriff who spoke to reporters about the blaze: “Right now the firefighters are more focused on fighting fires, drawing lines. And law enforcement, to be very honest, is scrambling to get people out of there as well as do searches”

More than 150 firefighters were deployed as well as a UH-60 Black Hawk army helicopter while a National Guard helicopter was on standby to rescue evacuees.

Late Tuesday night saw the mandatory evacuation of 881 inmates from the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in Canon city. The Royal Gorge fire meant the inmates had to be transported in vans and handicap-accessible vehicles from their facility.

As of today, the Arkansas river is closed from Canon City to Spike Buck with a full evacuation of the Royal Gorge park. The blaze could apparently be seen for miles as the massive plume of smoke rose. Local Canon City resident Jodienne Remillard said: “Canon City was a blanket of smoke and ashes”.

In close coordination with state and federal authorities, the Black Hills Energy – Colorado Electric & Colorado Gas Company have had to interrupt electric services to evacuated residents in the thick of the blaze until it is deemed safe enough for residents to return home. The general manager for Black Hills Energy, Susan Bailey said in a statement: “While we regret any inconvenience or potential disruption caused by this interruption of service, maintaining the safety of our customers is our highest priority.”

Here is some footage of the fire taken yesterday.

The Royal Gorge fire highlights the need for quick response units to deal with the outbreak of wildfires in dry, summery weather. Do you think local authorites have the right infrastructure to deal properly with wildfires like this? Make your opinion heard in the comments below.