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More help coming for Black Forest fire evacuees

Services, utilities latest focus from authorities

More Help For Wildfire Evacuees

BLACK FOREST, Colo. - Authorities on Tuesday said they will do more to provide Black Forest Fire evacuees with more convenient assistance and information.

During the daily fire briefing Tuesday, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said the most common complaint he receives from evacuees is the county's Disaster Assistance Center on Garden of the Gods Road in west Colorado Springs is too far away from them and should be closer.

The center offers a variety of services ranging from grief counseling to free legal advice.

"I understand the complaint," said Maketa.  "There's cone zones, there's traffic.  I've met with fire chiefs this morning, and I've spoken to Commissioner Darryl Glenn.  I'll be working very closely with the county as well as the fire chiefs, to see if we can't establish you a satellite office in your community."

Maketa said he'll announce the location in a few days.

Meanwhile, Black Hills Energy has restored natural gas service to around half of the 3,700 homes affected by the fire.  Spokesman Wes Ashton said service can't be fully restored until homeowners turn their gas meters on.  Homes with a yellow stake in the yards, he said, mean repair crews have checked those homes and are waiting for homeowners to turn their gas meters on.

Call 888-890-5554 if you are a homeowner who's ready to have service restored.  For emergencies, the 24-hour number is 800-694-8989.

Bill Fortune of the Red Cross said three citizen help centers have been set up at Hodgen Road and Highway 83; Black Forest Square; and the School in the Woods.  He said those centers provide water and a variety of items to help evacuees safely clean up their homes and properties.

Finally, there is now a website containing links to all fire-related sites.  Visit http://bffassistance.com.

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