Wildfire rages in Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, Colorado
By NCN News Staff
The Waldo Canyon Fire is threatening the Colorado Springs metropolitan area, which is home Nazarene Bible College, the Golden Bell Camp and Conference Center, and at least 14 Nazarene churches. The fire, made worse by record-high temperatures, has consumed more than 15,000 acres and forced the evacuation of at least 32,000 residents as of Wednesday, the fifth day of the blaze. 

Firefighters told Gene Grate, pastor of Springs First Church of the Nazarene, that they may be fighting the blaze through late July or early August. 

"Watching the devastation unfold before our eyes on live television on Tuesday evening was surreal, unbelievable, and heartbreaking," Grate said.

Grate said several Springs First Church families were evacuated. The families are unsure if their homes still stand. The church's McQueen Chapel will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time on Thursday and Friday for Colorado Springs residents to pray. The Red Cross has put the church on standby for use as a shelter.

Trinity Church of the Nazarene opened its facility to residents who have no air conditioning and cannot open their windows due to increasingly poor air quality. Some Trinity members were evacuated from their homes.

"We are about 15 miles from Rampart Range Road, which officials describe as the 'line in the sand' in regard to the east side [of the fire]," said Ryan Flynt, church administrative assistant. 

Nazarene Bible College reports that the fire is more than 10 miles away from its campus and does not appear to be a threat. NBC has not heard any reports of faculty, staff, or students losing their homes, though some were evacuated. Though the college is not a Red Cross evacuation center, some displaced people have taken shelter there.

"I heard a news reporter say that [Tuesday] was the saddest day in the history of Colorado Springs," NBC President Harold B. Graves Jr. said. "I do not have enough history with this area to know if that is an emotional statement, a factual one, or both. I do know this – it is really bad."

"We ask prayer for our city, El Paso and Teller Counties. Pray for the heroic firefighters putting their lives at risk, for those who have lost their homes, and those who have been evacuated. We need the heavens to open and drench the land with rain."

The Flying W Ranch, a Christian, Western entertainment ranch and a frequent destination for Colorado Nazarenes, was burned to the ground. Scotty Vaughn, pastor of The Flying W's Church on the Ranch, was a graduate of NBC. The college has offered its chapel to church.

Jerry Jacques, pastor of Colorado Springs Central Church of the Nazarene, said one church family lost their home and car to the fire, but no one was injured. 

Northeast Community Church asked to be placed on list of evacuation shelters, and church members are donating time, food, and money to the Care and Share Center, which is collecting donations for victims and firefighters. None of the church's members live in areas affected by the fire.

The Nazarene-owned Golden Bell Camp and Conference Center is about 30-45 minutes from the most western point of the fire.

Compassion International, a Christian child advocacy ministry, is within a mile of the evacuation area. Numerous Colorado Springs landmarks are threatened, including Garden of the Gods park and Northgate Air Force Academy.

"We appreciate the prayer support of Nazarenes around the country and around the world for the unspeakable tragedy we are experiencing in Colorado Springs," Grate said.

For a map created by Trinity Church of the Nazarene Administrative Assistant Ryan Flynt of the fire, evacuation areas, and Nazarene institutions, click here.

Continued prayer is requested.

Related stories: 

Colorado Springs fire leaves significant damage
Church of the Nazarene responds to Colorado fires
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