USA Swimming officials in Omaha have kept a close eye on the wildfires raging just outside Colorado Springs, where the organization has its headquarters and where many of its workers live.
As of Wednesday morning, Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said three USA Swimming employees had returned home as the organization tries to stay focused on running the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
“We’re following it very closely, and we’re in constant communication with the people back in Colorado Springs,” Wielgus said.
“The way we’ve handled it with anybody on staff is: ‘If you feel you need to go home or you want to go home, you come see me, and we’ll get you home and we’ll plug the gaps.’”
Wielgus said the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Omaha Sports Commission have offered help and support if necessary.
The fires have already forced the evacuation of more than 30,000 people in the Colorado Springs area. The fire doubled in size overnight Tuesday, Wielgus said. USOC Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun described the scene to him as “apocalyptic.”
The USA Swimming offices are part of the U.S. Olympic Training Center, southeast of where the fire was burning. “If it comes that direction, it’s coming through downtown,” Wielgus said.
Where the fire goes next is all wind-dependent, he said. With the wind, heat and no humidity, “it’s like the perfect storm.”
The Colorado Springs fire chief said in a Tuesday briefing that the Waldo Canyon Fire was “not even remotely close to being contained.”
Wielgus’ home is in the southwest part of the area.
“You hope it’s not coming in your direction, but you don’t wish it to go anybody else’s direction,” he said. “It’s an awful situation.”
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