Local fire districts may get requested to assist High Park fire, other agencies assist
June 14, 2012
Emergency responders and equipment from Grand County are on deck to assist in the High Park Fire, which has seized 49,000 acres west of Fort Collins as of Thursday and is reported to be 10 percent contained.Grand Lake Fire Protection District sent one firefighter-paramedic to assist at the High Park Fire, according Fire Chief Mike Long. However, due to high fire danger in the Grand Lake area, Grand Lake Fire does not plan to send any more personnel, he said, because once a firefighter is sent, the commitment is at least two weeks.The district has sent its Type 6 engine, a wildland engine, to other fires including this spring’s Lower North Fork Fire near Conifer. When this vehicle is lent, it doesn’t require sending personnel, however, it does require the crew to be National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) certified, Long said. “We haven’t been requested, yet,” said Fire Chief David Boyes of Grand Fire Protection District 1 in Granby. The request to assist on any fire comes through the Craig Interagency Dispatch Center, he said. A week ago the district did receive a request for EMT-Basic, however the personnel were not available to go, he said.Requests are not mandatory.”Our primary concern is to protect our community. We may not be able to send equipment or crews to other locations. You can’t cut yourself short,” Boyes said. The Granby-area’s Grand Fire Protection sent a truck and three-member crew to assist with the Lower North Fork Fire in March, a fire that burned 4,140 acres and was contained April 2. “Last year we did send tactical tender (a truck with pump) to a fire in September,” said East Grand Fire Protection District No. 4 Fire Chief Todd Holzworth. Type 1 tactical tender is a possibility, he said. The district has two available. “It’s very possible we could send someone. There are a few firefighters that would be interested in going out for two weeks.” The Bureau of Land Management Kremmling district also has employees to assist with fire management.”We need to be prepared for fires on the Western Slope so we can respond and initiate a first attack if a fire happens here,” said Chris Joyner, public affairs specialist for BLM Northwest District. “The quicker we can respond the less size a local fire would become,” he said. “We are providing some people, because we may need help someday.”U.S. Forest Service Public Affairs Officer Reid Armstrong of the Sulphur Ranger District in Granby has been in Fort Collins since June 10 serving as public information officer on the High Park Fire. She is helping manage the Joint Information Center for Larimer County, a multiagency organization providing information to the media and public. The Sulphur Ranger District sent six firefighters from the Granby area to the High Park Fire, including crew leader Deana Harms. The crew is guiding helicopters to assist fire crews on the ground, according to Armstrong. Meanwhile, the Colorado Division of Emergency Management sent a request for assistance on the fire and Grand County Emergency Services manager Trevor Denney responded. He is assisting in the Emergency Operations Center in Centennial, according to Nowell Curran, public information officer for Grand County Office of Emergency Management. Denney will be at the operations center for three days, she said. – Kristen Lodge can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.