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Destructive wildfires scattered across Colorado continue to wreak havoc on residential communities and local businesses as firefighters order mandatory evacuations to mitigate the loss of life.
As reported in The Colorado Springs Business Journal, business leaders in Colorado are grappling with the impact of the wildfires on their daily operations. While the Colorado Springs area is home to a multitude of businesses, the threat wildfires pose for any business should not be forgotten. The installation of an updated fire alarm system with fire extinguisher equipment is critical for any business that finds itself in an area with high instances of wildfires.
Take for instance the businesses surrounding the Royal Gorge Bridge Park. The more than 310,000 visitors drawn to the area during the summer, many of whom stay in Colorado Springs, pump about $85 million into local businesses. The 3,000-acre Royal Gorge wildfire is now poised to compromise the gorge's bridge and neighboring structures. The future of the entire attraction is at the mercy of the fire as evacuations have cleared out the area.
As reported by The Gazette, Woody Percival, Fire Information Officer with the U.S. Forest Service, said 20 structures surrounding the Royal Gorge Bridge Park had been lost but could not comment on where or what those structures were.
"We can't even speculate how long it will be closed," Chelsy Murphy, CVB spokesperson, told the Colorado Springs Business Journal. "But until we know, we can direct people elsewhere. We have more than 55 area attractions to direct visitors to."
Area business owners are evacuating, even if their building technically lies in pre-evacuation territory, as intense winds are expected to exaggerate the fire.
The Black Forest fire continues
As reported by KKTV, more than 360 structures have been completely destroyed resulting from the Black Forest fire that quickly gained strength in close proximity to a developed area.
As of June 12, El Paso County firefighters reported that the fire was zero percent contained, but that the fire had not grown to the degree it had during the previous day. Estimates of the area impacted by the fire are now at 8,500 acres.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office issued the following statement to residents: "BE READY!" If you are not in the current evacuation or pre-evacuation areas there is currently no immediate danger to your home, family, or business, but the fire is growing and may be moving toward you as weather and wind conditions change. Now is the time to get ready. Refine your evacuation plans, and gather the things you'll need if you must evacuate."
For businesses that fall within the affected area, the sheriff's office recommended they review their continuity of operations plans, as well as their facility evacuation plans and to make sure these plans were clearly communicated to staff. Businesses were also highly encouraged to create a roster including all of their current employees. In the case of an evacuation, this roster can then be used to ensure all staff members are safe and accounted for.
The mass exodus begins
The Denver Business Journal reported the Royal Gorge and Black Forest fires have prompted new evacuation orders from safety officials that will directly impact more than 9,000 people, including 3,500 businesses.
Firefighters have contained 20 percent of the fire, but the suspension bridge that feeds local businesses is still intact. Only 32 of its 1,292 wooden planks were damaged from the encroaching flames. Buildings on either side of the Royal Gorge Park were not as lucky.