Wildfires Rage Out West

June 27, 2012 • United States

Samaritan’s Purse is responding to wildfires that have consumed parts of Colorado and New Mexico as hundreds of people are without homes.

On June 4, a lightning strike started a wildfire in an area close to Ruidoso, N.M. It has destroyed 242 homes and businesses. About 44,000 acres of land have been burned, and the fire is 90 percent contained. The incredible loss of vegetation has increased the threat of flash flooding, and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has declared a state of emergency due to flood potential.

Five days after the New Mexico fire started, a similar lightning strike ignited the High Park Fire in an area west of Fort Collins, Colo. It has destroyed more than 87,000 acres and 257 homes, and one person has died. Almost 2,000 firefighters are working to stop the High Park Fire, which is being reported as the second largest in Colorado history. Currently, it is 65 percent contained, but continues to spread to new areas due to high-force winds.

Another wildfire that erupted in Colorado Springs, Colo, forced the evacuation of more than 32,000 people from their homes, including families and military personnel at the United States Air Force Academy. “It was like looking at a military invasion,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, after flying over the fire that exploded into neighborhoods across Colorado Springs yesterday.

Samaritan’s Purse deployed two disaster relief teams, one to Fort Collins and the other to Ruidoso, on June 20. Our teams are based at Timberline Church in Fort Collins, Colo. and at Angus Church of the Nazarene near Ruidoso, N.M. Since our Disaster Relief Units arrived, our staff has been preparing to accept volunteers and assess the areas.

In Colorado, volunteers have started working in Estes Park where 22 homes have been destroyed. Local volunteers are helping families at two sites, and we are waiting until more areas are secure to send out additional volunteers.

“Today we continued to see the power of our Lord moving throughout this community,” Tony McNeil, program manager in Colorado said. “The fire here seems to be backed into a box and we are praying that it will soon be extinguished. Please keep us in your prayers as we are starting our work here and pray that the Lord will open more doors, allowing us to move on into other areas to work.”

We have access to some areas in New Mexico and will begin to send out volunteers this week. Our staff has been taking work orders in preparation to help homeowners.

The teams in both locations will sift through the ashes to find valuables for homeowners and will remove debris to the roadside for cleanup. Billy Graham Rapid Response Chaplains are on the ground ministering to homeowners as they work through this difficult time, and one person has accepted Christ.

Please pray for the people who have lost their homes, for the wildfires to stop spreading, and that our staff will be faithful to share the Gospel, listen, and pray as God does mighty things.

Click here to volunteer in Colorado or New Mexico