Wildfire forces East Texas Boy Scouts to evacuate Colorado camp

Wildfire forces East Texas Boy Scouts to evacuate Colorado camp

TYLER (KYTX) - A group of East Texas Boy Scouts are preparing to head home after wildfire forced them from their Walsenburg, Colorado campsite.

The camp, along with many of their personal belongings, were burned in the fire.

CBS 19 was there when Stephanie Vasso received the first phone call from her son, Zeph, since learning of the massive wildfire threatening his Colorado camp Wednesday night.

Stephanie said it was her 12-year-old's first time at the Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch with his Boy Scout Troop.

"He loves the outdoors and the boy scouts have taught him so much. I believe this a good story for him to tell for years to come," said Stephanie Vasso.

The flames paint a story that none of the boys will forget.

The scouts and their leaders were participating in outdoor activities, minutes before they had to leave.

"I was worried, just like a mom would be, I want my babies. I want them to be ok. And I wanted to make all things goods for them," said Ann Brown.

Ann Brown's husband, Mike, and her oldest son, Noah, were hiking at the time. Her youngest son, Clay, was at the base camp.

Ann said Mike and Noah could see from the mountains that the fire was coming towards them.

"He said they just turned around and went the opposite direction," said Brown.

The Boy Scouts were able to find help from local law enforcement, who took them to a high school gym where the Red Cross had set up cots and other supplies.

"The boys were told to get their day pack and a change of clothes and that's all they could take with them. They had about five minutes to evacuate," explained Brown.

Those few minutes were enough time for all the boys and there leaders to get to safety.

"They're so use to thinking about putting themselves in situations where they would rescue other people. So, I think their training probably paid off in this case," said Vasso.

Besides the scouts belongings, a brand new equipment trailer was destroyed in the fire, along with a scout leader's vehicle.

A preliminary estimate for the replacement cost of the trailer and camping equipment is between $15,000 &  $20,000.

Any donations may be forwarded to BSA Troop 369, 3030 New Copeland Road, Tyler, Texas 75701.



This statement was released by the Boy Scouts of America East Texas Area Council:

"Members of East Texas Area Council Boy Scout Troop 369, chartered to Pollard Memorial United Methodist Church in Tyler, were participating in summer camp programs this week at Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch near Walsenburg, Colorado. The wildfires in the area resulted in the troop being evacuated near midnight last night to a Red Cross Shelter at Walsenburg High School. The 41 scouts and 5 scout leaders were only allowed to carry day packs, a change of clothes, and water bottles during the evacuation. They were moved by truck to the shelter and all are safe at this time. Troop gear, a leader's personal vehicle, and personal camping equipment were left behind and presumed lost in the fire. The area is closed until the fire danger has been eliminated."

Chuck's Travel of Tyler has dispatched buses and drivers who will arrive later this evening to transport the scouts and leaders back to Tyler. The entire East Texas Area Council Scouting family is glad that our scouts and leaders are safe and will be returning home later this week. Let me again stress that all scouts and leaders are safe, parents have been notified, and we are looking forward for their return to Tyler, according to the statement released by Greg Leitch | Assistant Scout Executive / COO.

The Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch is operated by the Sante Fe Trail Council, headquartered in Garden City, Kansas.






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