Hot, dry conditions are fueling large wildfires in several Western states
Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes
Relief organizations are providing food, shelter and support for evacuees and pets
You can help those affected by volunteering or making a material or monetary donation
A raging wildfire has forced 32,000 residents to evacuate their homes near Colorado Springs, Colorado. Extreme heat and winds gusting to 65 mph fueled the Waldo Canyon Fire as it broke through containment lines Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s horrific and terrifying and all those things, you know, we firefighters dread seeing,” Colorado Springs Fire Department spokeswoman Sunny Smaldino told CNN’s Carol Costello.
The fire doubled in size overnight, and 15,324 acres were burning by Wednesday morning, fire officials said.
“Right now, we’re asking anybody who would like to help to donate to the Red Cross, and that will help all of the families that are going to be in need,” Smaldino said.
Dave Rose, an El Paso County information officer, said one in four callers to the joint information center is offering food for firefighters, shelter for displaced neighbors or to volunteer in some capacity.
The Red Cross has opened four shelters for evacuees from the Waldo Canyon Fire. It is also providing shelter, meals and mental health services for victims of multiple fires in Colorado and neighboring Utah and New Mexico.
To support the Red Cross, go online, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation via your cell phone bill.
The Salvation Army is also responding to the needs of fire evacuees across the region, including coordinating meals at two shelters in Colorado Springs. Local volunteers can register to help with relief efforts online.
To make a donation to the Salvation Army’s disaster response team, go online or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Designate donations for “Disaster Relief” or “Wildfires.”
Six other wildfires remain active across the state, and five more were recently fully contained, according the Colorado Department of Emergency Management. The largest active blaze is the High Park Fire near Fort Collins, which has burned 87,250 acres and is only 55% contained.
The Adventist Community Services Disaster Response team opened a donation center to help victims of the High Park Fire at Foothills Mall in Fort Collins.
“We need approximately a hundred volunteers a day to collect the donations coming in and sort them … and also help with people as they’re coming through shopping, because they’re in a daze, quite honestly,” said ACS Community LIFT Communications Coordinator Donna Webb.
The center most urgently needs new socks and underwear, personal care items, camping gear, men’s jeans, work boots and nonperishable food items. For a complete list of needs and volunteer opportunities at the center, visit HelpColoradoNow.org. To support Adventist Community Services Community LIFT’s disaster response efforts, donate online.
Among the first responders battling the High Park Fire are volunteers from Rist Canyon, Glacier View and Poudre Canyon Volunteer Fire Departments. Each department accepts donations to support their response efforts and pay for supplies and equipment.
Donations to the Rist Canyon VFD can be mailed to RCVFD-Reasurer, P.O. Box 2, Bellvue, CO 80512, or visit RCVFD.org to donate via Paypal.
To support the Glacier View VFD, mail check donations to 1414 Green Mountain Drive, Livermore, CO 80536.
Poudre Canyon Volunteer Fire Department is accepting check donations mailed to P.O. Box 364, LaPorte, CO 80535, or call Canyon Utilities at 970-881-2262 to make a credit card donation to the department.
Some of the wildfires’ smallest victims are the animals caught in the fire zone. Local humane societies are working to make sure their needs are not overlooked.
The Larimer Humane Society is coordinating rescue, care and temporary shelter for animals affected by the High Park Fire. For more information or to make a donation, visit the organization’s website.
The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region is coordinating shelter for animals affected by the Waldo Canyon Fire. Donations can be made online to help the organization care for evacuated animals.
A team of volunteers at the Norris-Penrose Events Center is caring for 155 horses at the equestrian space in Colorado Springs.
“We have the best facilities for an evacuation process like this,” General Manager Johnny Walker said. “We weren’t financially set to do this, but that doesn’t matter. It’s all about the horses.”
To help with large animal evacuation efforts at Norris-Penrose, donations can be made to the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation’s trust accounts at Chase, UMB or Stockmens Banks.
In New Mexico, the Little Bear Recovery Team is helping residents affected by the Little Bear Fire, which has burned burned 44,330 acres and is at 90% containment, according to the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The organization’s recovery center is seeking donations of baby diapers, Pedialyte, Enfamil and first aid kits. To volunteer or make a donation, visit the team’s website.