Geer Services, Inc.
San Marco Properties
Geer Services, Inc.
Underwoods
Geer Services, Inc.
Geer Services, Inc.
Charles Parish
Claude Nolan
Jul 192013
 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(IDYLLWILD, Calif.) — The town of Idyllwild, Calif.’s existence is under threat from a raging inferno and a 30,000-foot column of smoke hovering above the community as thousands of residents evacuate.

The wind-whipped fire has burned more than 35 square miles in the mountains near Palm Springs, which is near the popular tourist town of Idyllwild. Flames have engulfed seven homes and numerous other buildings as nearly 3,000 firefighters, 17 water-dropping helicopters and 10 air tankers have been assigned to battle the blaze.

“Everybody’s known that if the fire ever came over that ridge, Idyllwild is probably toast,” resident Malcolm Oakes told ABC News.

U.S. Forest Service officials say battling the blaze is a national priority, and Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha-Tulley said the next few days will be crucial for the area.

“Embers get into the column and can drop anywhere,” she said. “For the next two days, it is predicted to go right over the top of this town.”

Most of the nearly 4,000 people who live in the historic artists’ community have evacuated. Some are unsure of what they’ll do if their homes are destroyed.

“If I lose this house, I will go live in the mountains somewhere else, again,” Rosalee, an area resident, told ABC News.

Claudia Posey, another evacuee, said it’s something she could hardly imagine happening to her.

“I have seen it on TV a bunch of times and it was hard to relate to, and now it just feels indescribable,” she said.

Raging about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, the Idyllwild blaze is threatening other nearby towns, including the outer edge of Palm Springs. For some families, it’s already too late.

“There is nothing that you can do, and the fire was doing 15 miles an hour and it just came right on top of them,” resident Bob Parker said.

There’s no end in sight, with wind and even dry lightening possible.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, the extreme heat has triggered thunderstorms, and tragedy, when a lightning bolt struck nine farm workers in Fort Collins, Co., leaving two in critical condition.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jun 222013
 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SOUTH FORK, Colo.) — A shift in the winds Friday night has fire officials sounding more optimistic about the fate of the tiny Colorado town of South Fork.

The tourist town in southwestern Colorado is threatened by the “West Fork Complex,” a combination of two giant wildfires which have already scorched 42,000 acres of land. The flames were headed directly towards the town, but a change in the weather turned the flames away.

South Fork is also lucky because the behavior of the fire has changed due to the type of forest it has encountered. The blaze initially exploded in size because it was burning in dead, dry, beetle-killed forests, but officials say it’s now burning living Ponderosa and Aspen forests where the fire doesn’t burn as hot.

The fire is currently 3 to 5 miles outside of South Fork, and firefighters are standing by in case the weather changes again.

The town’s 400 residents and hundreds of tourists have already been evacuated, and no homes have been destroyed.

“We’re still here,” South Fork Police Chief James Chavez told ABC News.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jun 162013
 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) — Firefighters have contained 65 percent of Colorado’s massive Black Forest Fire and hope to have it fully contained by next week, fire officials told reporters Sunday.

“The crews last night had a good night, nothing backwards, all forwards, so we’re real happy with those guys,” said Incident Commander Rich Harvey, praising the efforts of the firefighters who are battling the flames.

There were no deaths or injuries, and no more homes were destroyed by the fire overnight. The people who were missing from the fire zone have now been found safe.

El Paso Sheriff Terry Maketa said that there are still police officers and other law enforcement personnel patrolling the area to protect evacuated homes from looters and to ensure that people heeded the evacuation. According to Maketa, there have been four burglaries.

According to Maketa, it may be days before thousands of evacuees can go home – Not necessairily because of the fire, but because of the debris left in its wake. The roads are clogged with fire trucks, and there are numerous downed trees and power lines. Maketa says it’s too dangerous to send people home just yet.

The sheriff also said he’s formed a task of state and ATF agents to try and find the origin and the cause of this blaze.

The fire has destroyed 473 homes and killed two people. Maketa said that a top forensic doctor is working to identify the bodies, but he advised everyone to be patient.

“Don’t forget, this isn’t CSI,” he said. “It takes a lot of time. He is working with very little evidence to perform this identification.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

May 252013
 

iStockphoto/ThinkStock(SAN ANTONIO, Tex.) — Record rainfall hitting the city of San Antonio, Texas, in the past 24 hours is causing widespread flooding, with at least one confirmed death.

The National Weather Service says the city airport recorded about 10 inches of rain in 12 hours, breaking several records.

“It set a new daily record, not only a daily record, monthly record but it’s the second all time record for the city of San Antonio for rainfall in a 24 hour period of time,”  Pat McDonald of the National Weather Service.

The rain has caused significant flooding in some areas, closing roadways and stranding motorists, and leaving thousands of homes without power. Five rivers are overflowing their banks as well.

ABC’s Matt Rivers, reporting from San Antonio, says at least 40 homes have had to be evacuated.  “It’s just like the scenes you see during hurricanes with people being taken out of their homes on rafts with first responders guiding them to safety,” Rivers said.

Larry Trevino, the emergency manager for San Antonio, says there have been a significant number of high water rescues.

“We’ve performed probably 20 to 25 actual rescues out in high water intersections so we are urging people to please do not leave their homes,” Trevino said. “There’s about 160 calls right now for high water related or water related rescues and incidents.”

One woman is confirmed to have died during the flooding. Few details have been revealed, but authorities believe her car became stuck, and the woman was swept away when she got out of her car.

Despite the tragedy, some are hoping that a little good can be salvaged from the flood. The heavy rain comes on the heels of a multi-year drought in the area.

“This will definitely help,” McDonald said. “Will it break the drought? No one can tell right now because the rain came in at a very fast rate.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

May 232013
 

Benjamin Krain/Getty Images(MOORE, Okla.) — Cellphone video recorded by an Oklahoma teacher at Briarwood Elementary School shows the exact moment an E-F5 tornado tore through the building as she attempted to calm students’ fears by telling them, “It’s almost over.”

Robin Dziedzic, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, huddled with students in a darkened bathroom Monday afternoon as the monstrous twister tore through Moore, Okla.

“This is where we walked down and I was right here,” Dziedzic said, pointing to the bathroom. “There were about 25 girls and several teachers.”

Students held on to each other as the devastating tornado ripped the roof from the building and brought down walls.

“Oh, my God, I hate this. I hate this,” a student says.

“It’s almost over. It’s almost over. Oh, my God,” Dziedzic can be heard saying to the student.

After the tornado passed, teachers and students emerged to survey the devastation and see what was left of their school a few days before their summer vacation was set to begin.

The teachers and students at Briarwood were considered fortunate compared to Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed, according to the medical examiner’s office. The cause of death for six of the seven children was “asphyxia” after being smothered by falling debris, the medical examiner’s office said Wednesday in a report.

One of those children from Plaza Towers Elementary School was 9-year-old Antonia Candelaria, who will be the first victim laid to rest Thursday.

Authorities also released the names of 23 of the 24 people confirmed dead, ranging in age from 4 months to 65.

Gov. Mary Fallin’s office said Wednesday evening that everyone has been accounted for and a total of 353 people sustained injures from the twister.

In the small town of Moore, where few people were sparred grief, the stories of survival are endless. While some hunkered down in a school bathroom or in a bank vault, others took shelter in their homes.

Sarah and Shane Patterson saved and struggled to buy their home in Moore three years ago, which was taken away in seconds by winds estimated at more than 200 mph. As Sarah Patterson toured the devastation, she found the shoes she was wearing when the tornado hit.

“It took them off my feet. The suction in the house pulled them off my feet,” she said.

A few mementos of her childhood were left behind such as doll.

“It’s a doll my great-grandmother made me when I was a baby,” she said. “My mom would be happy to know it’s here.”

Along with the doll, Patterson was able to salvage a few pictures of her sons — 9-year-old Lucas and 7-year-old Noah — who huddled underneath a mattress in the home and prayed as the twister roared through.

“I was praying as hard as I could. And my boys, I said, ‘Pray, guys. Just pray,’” Patterson said. “I don’t know how we made it.”

The Pattersons say they will rebuild in Moore, but with one major addition, a safe room.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio