The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is more well
known for its rigorous academics than aggressive tweets, but the recent
wildfires in Colorado have pushed the military into the spotlight on social
media, and Twitter especially.
According to OhMyGov
Analytics, approximately 1,354 tweets were recorded about the service
academy this week, many of them commenting on the blazes threatening to engulf
the school and its cadets. 528 news articles were also recorded about the
event--a sign that Mother Nature still commands attention in what is shaping to
be a hot, baking summer. Social media provided much of the moment-by-moment
reporting of the wildfire as it jumped
containment lines Wednesday, sending cadets--and much of Colorado
Springs--scrambling for cover.
"That fire in Waldo Canyon has engulfed 35 homes,"
@Lakewaylady tweeted early
Wednesday morning. "Moving North towards AF Academy and very close to i_25
"Ten acres of the U.S. Air Force Academy is now on fire,"
@nug4life wrote several hours later
as video surfaced
of smoke rising from hills overlooking the campus, looking more like an opening
reel from a movie than news footage.
Access to the campus was limited Wednesday, with many
because of the inferno. Nearly 9,000
residents in the surrounding area were forced to leave their homes--32,000 in
the Colorado Springs Metropolitan Area overall
"Keep praying for Colorado Springs," Blogger Mark Whitlock tweeted
Wednesday--around the same time @lakewaylady posted her update on the
The wildfire sparks memories of the 1994 South Canyon
Wildfire that took the lives of 14 firefighters and base jumpers near Glenwood
Springs, Colorado. The event was
immortalized in the book Fire
On The Mountain by John Maclean, which was later made into an
Emmy-Award nominated documentary of the same name. Glenwood Springs is approximately 200 miles
away from Colorado Springs.
Very few politicians and celebrities seemed to join in the
conversation, which was mostly dominated by families asking after the safety of
loved ones who attend or live near the academy. As the service academy noted in its official social media
account Thursday, nearly 550 cadets were being relocated in the wake of the
fire, 200 to University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, the others to families
willing to sponsor them until more permanent dwellings could be arranged.
Colorado Springs is just the latest metropolitan area to be affected
by wildfires in the past several years. A 2009 California
wildfire and a separate
outbreak near Las Vegas, Nevada left many homeless and stretched the
resources of personnel in the respective states, bringing into question whether
it is safe at all for residents to live near fire-prone areas.