Air Force Academy battles wildfire at West Monument Creek


Firefighters are working to contain a large wildfire that broke out along the southern grounds of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado on Sunday afternoon.

“As of 9 a.m. today, the West Monument Creek Fire has burned 168 acres and is 20 percent contained. U.S. Air Force Academy and Colorado Springs fire departments worked through the night to fight the fire,” the academy said in a press release Monday.

The blaze did not pose a threat to structures on campus as of 6 a.m. Monday, the school said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. The Colorado Springs Fire Department added Sunday evening that crews did not yet have an estimate of when the fire might be contained. It’s unclear what sparked the blaze.

The service academy continued most operations as normal but remained closed to the public on Monday, according to the release. Patient appointments at the school’s main medical facility will be rescheduled, the school said. Defense Department ID card holders and contractors may still access the campus.

About 4,000 cadets attend the four-year university, which prepares graduates for careers in the Air Force, Space Force and other armed services.

USAFA spokesperson Dean Miller told Air Force Times that although it might seem odd to see such a blaze in winter, the Colorado Springs area faces the threat of wildfires year-round.

The city’s fire department and the academy have a mutual firefighting agreement that allows them to come together as partners in crises like this.

“They’ve got a robust capability,” Miller said. “We’re grateful to have the mutual aid agreement with the city.”

In this case, the academy’s firefighters are leading the charge while the Fort Carson Directorate of Emergency Services Fire Department supports. Together, they have deployed two brush trucks, as well as three helicopters — a UH-60 Black Hawk and two CH-47 Chinooks — to dump water on the affected areas.

Pre-evacuation notices went out yesterday to those living in nearby Douglass Valley and Pine Valley, but no official evacuation orders have been given, the school said. The academy has also created an emergency response team to help military families and civilian employees affected by the fire.

“The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the area, and winds are expected to increase today, so residents should monitor local media and official Academy social media sources for updates,” the release added.

Local news outlets also reported fire crews have been battling two separate blazes that have torched hundreds of acres at the Army’s nearby Fort Carson, Colorado, since Sunday morning.

No injuries were reported, and no structures were endangered by either fire, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported Monday.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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