As Wildfires Rage, Covenanters Reach Out

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (June 13, 2013) – Raging wildfires have forced several members of Evangelical Covenant Church congregations to evacuate their homes but so far, no property damage or injuries have been reported, says Tammy Swanson-Draheim, Midwest Conference superintendent.

Several families from Faith Covenant Church had evacuated, but there were no reports of damage or injuries reported as of early this morning. Pastor Naas Tredoux said one of the evacuees is a member with pancreatic cancer who has been trying to sell his home.

Emergency officials told Tredoux yesterday that his family needed to prepare to evacuate, but the home seems to be out of danger now.

Greg Ralston, pastor of Living Hope Covenant Church, said that many people in his congregation are taking in area residents who have been forced from their homes. He has not heard of anyone in his congregation who has had to evacuate.

The congregation of Relevant Word Ministries Covenant Church was donating water and Gatorade to the firefighters, according to an administrative assistant at the church. She knew of no families who had been displaced.

As of 11 a.m. CDT today, the Black Forest fire had claimed at least 360 homes and 15,000 acres. It has continued to spread since it started on Tuesday.

So far 38,000 people have been evacuated. “That’s a small city,” noted Ralston. “All of the people need to go somewhere.”

Families are taking in friends and relatives as well as others who have been displaced, Ralston said.

This is the second fire in as many years to threaten the area. Fires burned through parts of the state throughout last summer, but June proved to be the worst month, forcing 34,500 people to evacuate and destroying more than 350 homes.

The fires are a rare occurrence in the Colorado Springs area. “I’ve lived here almost 20 years, and this year and last year are the only ones that have threatened us at all,” Ralston said.

“You find yourself having a hard time doing anything because you want to keep checking the updates,” he added.

This year’s fire is closer to the church than the one in 2012, but the flames are not visible as they were last year, Ralston said. “To see the flames coming down a hill to the city was a harrowing experience.”

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