Apr 19, 2013 12:36 AM by Eric Ross
Thursday afternoon, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office released their official Waldo Canyon Fire report. Sheriff Terry Maketa held a news conference outlining what went right and what needed to be improved.
"I think our law enforcement folks and the coordination with other entities did an extraordinarily well under the circumstances," Maketa said.
He praised first responders for deploying quickly and promptly into areas threatened by the fire and attributes quick thinking and teamwork for helping hundreds evacuate.
"Our staff did a tremendous job in managing, collecting data and ensuring that when we cleared a neighborhood, we were 100-percent confident whether somebody was there or whether they were gone," Maketa said.
He also thanked firefighters for keeping the blaze contained north of Highway 24. Had it spread across the highway, the effects could have been devastating.
Still, Maketa says there are improvements to be made.
"Communication could have been better," he said. "There were times people were doing the right things, but we missed, or potentially could have missed opportunities because that communication was not funneled through the entire management system."
While evacuations were ordered early, many also experienced traffic troubles.
Some suggestions include synchronized traffic signals and more ground traffic controllers to help steer evacuees toward an exit quickly and efficiently.
The fire no doubt could have taken dozens, if not hundreds of lives had it not been for the quick response of emergency officials.
As we enter fire season, El Paso County residents are encouraged to sign up for emergency text notifications.
You shouldn't rely solely on these notifications for assistance, but they could be a valuable tool in helping you and your family stay one step ahead of danger.
Registration can be completed online by going to www.elpasoteller911.org