A woman and her dog died after flames engulfed their mobile home in a wind-driven fire that destroyed eight units at two mobile home parks, officials said on Friday.
The woman’s death was confirmed by El Paso County Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly confirmed. He said she had been provisionally identified but declined to give a name or other details until ID was confirmed.
Steve Kaye, a resident who fled the fire, said he heard a woman scream, “Help me! Help me!” Help me!” and quickly ran outside to see her door burst into flames Thursday afternoon. He said he tried to help her escape, but the fire grew too fast and soon her entire house was consumed by the fire Fire swallowed, he said Authorities have not confirmed the woman he saw captured was the person who died.
The fire destroyed homes at Skylark Mobile Home Park and neighboring Falcon Mobile Home Park, both on Cascade Avenue. It is unclear in which park the deceased woman lived. Authorities previously said all eight homes were in the Skylark.
Several pets were killed in the fire, including a dog belonging to the deceased woman, firefighters confirmed.
The cause of the fire – one of three across the city on Thursday, underscoring the area’s high fire risk – was ruled accidental after investigators couldn’t rule out that the ignition was caused by firefighters’ improper disposal of “smoke materials”. said Friday.
The separate fires briefly resulted in a shelter-in-place order and canceled flights at Colorado Springs Airport and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people from their homes. At the RV parks, high winds and explosions from propane tanks spread the flames to nearby units, a fire department spokesman said.
Firefighters were digging through the piles of debris on Friday morning when an excavator ripped off the frame of a trailer. Metal paneling came off the mobile home next door, revealing its charred interior.
Among the rubble were several trees, their bark peeled and singed by the flames. The area remained cordoned off with yellow police tape.
Bailey McCreary, 21, said she heard what sounded like rain on her roof and waves crashing as she went outside on Thursday and felt the heat of the flames on her body and a strong smell of propane gas.
“It wasn’t waves. It was huge, huge flames,” McCreary said
She quickly jumped in her car and drove past a burning trailer.
“I drove as fast as I could. I didn’t want to stop in case something else exploded,” she said.
A day after the fire, she walked through the rubble-strewn park with tears in her eyes.
“We live in a trailer park, we’re poor,” she said, adding that many who live there don’t have insurance.
Debbie Wilson, 56, and her roommate returned to find their home badly damaged with their four cats dead. They hoped to collect the bodies of Gizmo, Penelope, Minnie and Praline and take them to the vet to be cremated.
They planned to salvage important documents and IDs they could find at their home, which they moved into in August. Wilson’s roommate, who declined to give his name, described their home as a “charred mess, open to the sky.”
Wilson, who was awaiting her nurse’s arrival Thursday, said police knocked on her door to get her out. She heard a series of “little pops” mixed with explosions as flames singed a nearby house.
“It was the first time in a long time that I could say that sirens are a welcome sound,” Wilson said.
The other Colorado Springs fires showed how human activity, which can be harmless in more forgiving conditions, can start fires that quickly spread out of control amid the state’s hot, dry, and windy weather.
On the northeast side of town, the Akerman fire, which endangered 500 homes and caused the evacuation of about 1,000 people in the Stetson Hills neighborhood on Thursday, was started by smoldering ash from a resident’s fire, a Colorado Springs police spokeswoman said. Joshua Allen was quoted as “Firinging Woods or Prairie” for unwittingly and recklessly setting fires to properties. It’s a class 6 felony.
The Alturas fire, which briefly closed Colorado Springs airport, was apparently started by a cruiser owned by the county sheriff’s deputy after the deputy drove into a field and accidentally set grass on fire, authorities said. Crews were containing the fire, which had grown to 180 acres around 4:30 p.m. Friday, according to the sheriff’s office.
Another fire that ignited west of Cripple Creek in Teller County on Thursday had grown to about 846 acres by Friday night, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office said. The cause of the High Park fire, which started on private property before moving to Bureau of Land Management land, is unknown.
Colorado Springs and much of the Front Range were under a red flag warning Friday, with tinder dry conditions and winds up to 40 miles per hour posing a critical fire hazard for the state’s northeast quarter, the Boulder-based National Weather Service warned on Twitter .