Taking shelter


The Elbert County Fairgrounds in Kiowa became a temporary home for hundreds of animals evacuated from the Black Forest fire.

Trucks pulling trailers filled with farm animals and livestock lined up along the dusty road into the fairgrounds June 12, where they were initially directed to holding pens so the animals could be inventoried.

Some animals were brought by their owners, and some by friends of friends who just wanted to help.

“I don’t really know the lady that owns this horse,” said Jacob Weiss of Colorado Springs, who was in line to drop off the animal. “But a friend of mine does, and asked me to help her out because she didn’t have a truck big enough to pull the trailer.”

High winds and hot temperatures expanded evacuation areas in and around the Black Forest area, pushing ash and embers closer to Elbert County.

Hazy skies also made breathing difficult.

More than 1,000 Boy Scouts and 100 adults were voluntarily evacuated from the Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch in Elbert.

The move was precautionary and more out of a concern for the health and well-being of the Scouts, particularly those with asthma and other breathing problems, said Elizabeth Fire and Rescue spokesperson Kara Gerczynski.

Additionally, 250 campers and staff from the nearby Jewish Community Center Ranch were evacuated to the JCC in Denver.

Horses, cows, cats and dogs from the ranch were sheltered at the fairgrounds.

A statement from the Elbert Count Sheriff’s Office estimated more than 400 animals, including 216 horses, 27 alpacas and a yak, are on site and more were expected.

Gerczynski said eight evacuated families were also staying at the fairgrounds.

“We still have space,” she said. “We are not full, so if you have animals, right now there’s plenty of room.

Residents needing information or assistance on moving livestock should contact the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office at 303-805-6141 or 303-805-6134.


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