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Colorado fires subside, recovery begins

BY SUSAN KIM | CONIFER, CO | June 14, 2000

CONIFER, CO (June 14, 2000) -- Wildfires in Colorado are nearly

contained but fire risk remains high as residents recover. Firefighters

are watching for new fires or flareups. At least 51 families are left

without homes.

Officials are also concerned about future flooding that could be caused

by erosion and runoff.

One fire 50 miles northwest of Denver burned nearly 11,000 acres.

The second fire, which also burned nearly 11,000 acres, was about 35

miles southwest of Denver.

Disaster Child Care, teams of trained child care volunteers administered

by Church of the Brethren, were on site to care for children of

displaced families.

The Salvation Army also provided relief for displaced people. In

Conifer, the Salvation Army is working in partnership with the

Mountain Resource Center. "We're compiling a list of folks willing to

help people," said Alana Spears, volunteer coordinator. "We don't have

hotels and motels -- this is a mountain community. So we're seeing

what resources are available in terms of housing, food, pet care, child

care, and things like that."

The Mountain Resource Center is also working with local churches, Spears


Salvation Army Captain Jim Nyberg said he anticipated that initial

post-fire cleanup would take at least two weeks. "It's good that the

Mountain Resource Center is set up to accept donations because a lot of

people have already been donating locally," he said.

The Colorado Springs chapter of Catholic Charities has contacted a

local parish in Bailey, said Rochelle Finzel, associate director of

advocacy and public policy. "We're prepared to offer financial

assistance or counseling as the situation plays out," she said.

Other faith-based organizations, such as the American Baptist Church,

have also contacted their regional offices and local congregations to

see what resources are needed to respond.

Some 44,300 fires covering more than 1.2 million acres have been

recorded in the U.S. so far this year, with the drought conditions

getting worse in the West and South.

Some scientists believe the drought a result of La Nina, the cooling

phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean that has produced warmer winters and

drier-than-normal conditions in the Southeast.

Forecasters predict that above-normal temperatures will continue in

the South and the Midwest, and that severe drought conditions will

persist in much of the South. Forecasters also predict the Midwest

also will suffer, particularly Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa,

and Indiana. These were among the states hardest hit by the eight-year

"Dustbowl" drought in the 1930s -- the worst in U.S. history.

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