By Stan Friedman
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (June 27, 2012) – At least one family of Faith Evangelical Covenant Church is waiting to hear whether the Waldo Canyon fire raging through this area has destroyed their home, and the congregation’s pastor Naas Tredoux evacuated the home he is renting on Tuesday.
Greg Ralston, pastor of Living Hope Covenant Church, said six families from the congregation, including Covenant chaplain Dan and Mary Danielson, were evacuated.
The Colorado Springs fire chief told reporters Tuesday night, “This is a firestorm of epic proportions.”
The Faith Covenant family was forced to evacuate on Saturday, Tredoux said. They live in the Mountain Shadows area, where officials have said several dozen homes have been destroyed.
One of the families from Living Hope that evacuated has a home close to the fire line. They had to leave behind three horses because they were too spooked to get into the trailer.
Tredoux has three children ages 10-13. “Their school is right where the fires are, so we don’t know if it has been burned down,” he said. “A lot of their friends have homes in the area.”
Tredoux said a storm packing possible high winds and little rain was scheduled to move into the area within the next several hours and could determine whether his house survives the blaze. Winds could reach 65 mph like those that caused the fire to quickly double in size Tuesday, he added.
“The fire is in the hills above our home,” Tredoux said. If it sweeps down, it will destroy our home.”
“The winds already are starting to whip around here,” said Ralston.
Getting out of the area was slow going because 32,000 people were evacuating at the same time, Tredoux said.
About two dozen people from Living Hope attended a prayer meeting at the church Tuesday night, but cars carrying evacuees made the road in front of the building “a parking lot,” Ralston said. He noted that there are only a few roads out of the area.
Other residents are preparing for a possible evacuation. “Many of the people have their valuables in (plastic) totes,” Ralston said.
It has been a rude welcome for the Tredoux family. They moved from South Africa eight months ago after he was called to serve the church – their furniture arrived just last week.
They currently are staying on the east side of the city with members of the church. Area residents are helping one another by taking in evacuees. “We have a young man and his cat staying with us,” Ralston said.
The church building is not in any danger from the fire, Tredoux said. Ralston said that although the fire is three miles from the Living Hope building, officials are concerned about embers that can travel up to half a mile and start spot fires.
Paul Lessard, pastor of Castle Oaks Covenant Church in Castle Rock, said some members of his church have been put on pre-evacuation alert, but he doesn’t believe the church building is in danger.
So far, Covenant Heights Camp and Retreat Center has not been threatened, an office worker said. “We’ve had families call, but we can’t see any smoke from here.”
Covenant News Service has left messages with pastors of other churches in the area and will post additional information as it becomes available.
Editor’s note: Photos courtesy of Naas Tredoux