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Air Force Academy battles wildfire at West Monument Creek

This story was updated Feb. 26 at 8:50 p.m. to include additional information from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Firefighters are working to contain a large wildfire that broke out along the southern grounds of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado on Sunday afternoon.

“While some hot spots remain, the fire is no longer spreading, and the forecasted precipitation for Feb. 27 bodes well for firefighting operations,” the academy said Monday evening. “The footprint of the fire has not significantly changed from this morning and the fire is not fully contained.”

The West Monument Creek Fire had burned 168 acres and was 20% contained as of 9 a.m. Monday, after firefighters from the Air Force Academy and Colorado Springs fire departments battled the flames through the night.

The blaze did not pose a threat to structures on campus as of 6 a.m. Monday, the school said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. The academy added Monday evening that crews do not yet have an estimate of when the fire might be contained. It’s unclear what sparked the flames.

USAFA is contining most operations as normal but will remain closed to the public on Tuesday, the academy said. Patient appointments at the school’s main medical facility will be rescheduled. Defense Department ID card holders and contractors may still access the campus.

About 4,000 cadets attend the four-year university, which prepares graduates for careers in the Air Force, Space Force and other armed services.

USAFA spokesperson Dean Miller told Air Force Times that although it might seem odd to see such a blaze in winter, the Colorado Springs area faces the threat of wildfires year-round.

The city’s fire department and the academy have a mutual firefighting agreement that allows them to come together as partners in crises like this.

“They’ve got a robust capability,” Miller said. “We’re grateful to have the mutual aid agreement with the city.”

In this case, the academy’s firefighters are leading the charge while the Fort Carson Directorate of Emergency Services Fire Department supports. Together, they have deployed two brush trucks, as well as three helicopters — a UH-60 Black Hawk and two CH-47 Chinooks — to dump more than 14,000 gallons of water on the affected areas, the school said.

The U.S. Forest Service is clearing grass and brush from the steep terrain to stop the fire from spreading further, the academy said.

“This has truly been a team effort from across the region, and a huge thank you to everyone on the front line that is supporting this response,” Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark said. “We are so impressed by the teamwork that has gone into keeping our community and Academy safe.”

Pre-evacuation notices went out Sunday to those living in nearby Douglass Valley and Pine Valley, but have since been rescinded, the school said Monday. Academy residents have not been told to evacuate. The academy has created an emergency response team to help military families and civilian employees affected by the fire.

“The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the area, and winds are expected to increase today, so residents should monitor local media and official Academy social media sources for updates,” the school added Monday.

Local news outlets also reported fire crews have been battling two separate blazes that have torched hundreds of acres at the Army’s nearby Fort Carson, Colorado, since Sunday morning.

No injuries were reported, and no structures were endangered by either fire, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported Monday.



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