Approximately 2,000 people have been evacuated from base housing at the United States Air Force Academy.
During a news conference Tuesday night Col. Tim Gibson, the 10th Air Base Wing Commander for the academy, said he ordered the evacuation of the southernmost housing area at approximately 6:30 p.m. Two-and-a-half hours later he ordered the evacuation of Douglas Valley which sits just north of Pine Valley.
Additionally the academy will be closed tomorrow to all visitors and medical facilities will be shut down. Cadets will continue with their summer academic programs however they have been told to be prepared to evacuate. Gibson said there are contingency plans in place. There are currently 1,800 cadets on base.
On Thursday there will be approximately 1,000 cadet appointees arriving for basic cadet training and at this time in-processing will go as planned however the academy will have to make adjustments to facility use to accommodate the circumstances of the fire.
“So far the cadet area itself is not directly threatened by the fire but those circumstances can certainly change relatively quickly as we have seen throughout the day,” Gibson said.
Those who live on base are being welcomed at Fort Carson where approximately 300 people have already arrived. Anyone needing to use the medical facilities at the academy are asked to go to Fort Carson or Peterson Air Force Base.
Gibson said there is fire activity along the southern and western corner of the academy but no structures have burned and there are none that are currently threatened.
“We have a full Air Force fire fighting capability. We’ve got 37 firefighters who are nationally certified as wild land firefighters. We’ve recalled all of those in addition to our structural crews that are also available to us to defend some of our key structures. We’ve also got a number of firefighters from other mobile departments such as Peterson (Air Force Base). A number of our mutual aid partners are assisting with us as we fight that and attempt to keep the damage to a minimum,” Gibson said.
Gibson said this is the first time in history that the academy has had to evacuate residents and personnel.
“That is absolutely unprecedented,” Gibson said.