Colo. households among thousands fleeing wildfireBy Sheldon C. Good Mennonite World Review
Members of Beth-El Mennonite Church were among those who evacuated their homes as nearly 1,000 firefighters tried June 26 to contain a 15,517-acre wildfire that moved into Colorado Springs, sending tens of thousands fleeing the city.
At least 10 households from Beth-El followed mandatory evacuations and left their homes. Nine households were under pre-evacuation alerts but did not leave their homes.
“All three homes that are in the burned-out area were spared, even though homes beside them or across the street were destroyed,” said Merv Birky, pastor of Beth-El, in an interview with MWR on July 2.
All but two households in the burned-out area have returned home, he said.
“Overall, the families are doing well, and there is a tremendous outpouring of care and support,” Birky wrote in an email June 28.
About 185 people regularly attend Beth-El Mennonite.
The Waldo Canyon fire, which started 10 miles northwest of Colorado Springs on June 23, had forced about 36,000 people to evacuate their homes as of June 29. Colorado Springs is a city of 419,000 people and is Colorado’s second largest.
Those from Beth-El who evacuated have moved in with other people from the congregation or with nearby friends. All but one have remained in the city. Several of the adults have also evacuated their workplaces.
Though devastating, the fire has brought people together.
In an interview with MWR on June 28, Birky said it has been “pretty amazing” to see the congregation and local community come together and help each other by lending shelter, food and other necessities.
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