Flash flood prompts evacuation of scout camp in Colorado

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 08, 2014 3:24 PM

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Nearly 100 Boy Scouts were evacuated from a mountain camp in southern Colorado on Tuesday after heavy rains caused flash flooding in an area that was stripped of vegetation by a 2013 wildfire, authorities said.

The evacuees from the Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch, about 150 miles south of Denver, were taken to a shelter at a community center in nearby Walsenburg, said Huerfano County spokeswoman Lori Cordova.

No injuries were reported among the 96 scouts and troop leaders from Kansas and Colorado who were forced to flee the camp, she said.

Michael Stewart, executive director of the Santa Fe Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said a heavy rainstorm stalled over the area overnight and caused the Upper Bear Creek, which runs adjacent to the camp, to jump its banks.

"Everyone got out safely and none of our scouts or staff was in any danger," Stewart said, adding that they will return to the camp later on Tuesday.

The camp, which sits at an elevation of 8,500 feet about 30 miles from the New Mexico border, was evacuated last year after the so-called East Peak wildfire tore through the area, scorching almost 13,000 acres.

The mountainside was denuded by the blaze, and the burn scar that was left cannot absorb excess runoff from the stream above the camp.

The scouts have planted trees and built berms around the property to protect it, Stewart said, but some surrounding areas have not had any remediation work done, leaving sections of the camp vulnerable to flooding.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Walsh)