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Ignoring evacuation orders in Springer Wildfire

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Jun 20 2012 01:53:13 AM CDT

Several people risk danger by refusing to leave.

PARK COUNTY, Colo. -

Authorities learned for the first time Tuesday that some residents have failed to heed evacuation orders near the Springer Wildfire.

The situation came to light during an afternoon media briefing at the Lake George Fire Station, and involves several residents in the Wagon Tongue subdivision near the Park County and Teller County line.

Darlene Grippo, a neighbor, said the involved residents are elderly and reluctant to leave their homes and property unattended.

"One of them is calling Woodland Park High School (where some evacuees are staying) a FEMA camp. He's a very paranoid person," said Grippo. "One of them said he'd swim to the middle of the lake if the fire came his way. You can't force people to do the right thing. But I'm checking on them."

Fire officials responded to the revelation.

"I'm not aware of people who have not evacuated," said fire team spokesman Greg Heule. "That information has not been passed along to us. We don't handcuff people and drag them away from their home. If they choose to stay, they choose to stay."

However, Heule said anyone who stays, risks danger to themselves and to firefighters who will try to conduct a rescue if the wildfire threatens. 

Heule said county sheriffs are responsible for enforcing evacuation orders.

"The problem is having (residents) trying to get out while we're trying to get in to an area," said Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensminger. "We'd rather not have to deal with that."

Robin Robl said she evacuated from her home without being certain she was in a mandatory evacuation area. She also said she doesn't have a home phone and could not receive a reverse 911 notification. Robl since has learned her home is in the mandatory area.

"Now I just have to go back and get my cat," said Robl, who is staying with friends nearby.

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