Colorado ARES Supports Wildland Fires
For the second summer in a row the entire state of Colorado seems to be on fire; currently there are sixteen wildfires burning within Colorado and it’s the smoke from these fires that actually blankets the state. On June 11th both the Royal Gorge Fire and the Black Forest Fire broke out activating several Colorado ARES districts; the State is divided into 28 ARES districts aligned with Colorado State’s nine all-hazards homeland security Regions.
When the Royal Gorge fire started near the famous Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City, Colorado, ARES members in Custer, Fremont, Huerfano and Pueblo counties responded providing communications support for sheltering activities. This fire burned 3,218 acres.
Later that same day, the Black Forest Fire broke out close to the Waldo Canyon area in Colorado Springs where a similar wildfire caused so much destruction last year. The Black Forest Fire has now become the most destructive fire in Colorado history; ultimately consuming 14,280 acres, 507 homes and was responsible for two deaths. During the peak of this tragic fire, eight shelters were opened for both people and large or small animals. There were over 35,000 people ultimately forced to evacuate and this caused a very heavy burden on the American Red Cross who immediately requested ARES communications support between their eight various shelters and the Pikes Peak Red Cross headquarters. El Paso County, Douglas County and Elbert County ARES members responded by providing round the clock radio operators for several days. Presently, Jefferson County ARES still has several members working on other fires within the state where their ARES members are assigned individually as NWCG certified COMTs and RADO.
Colorado Section and Regional ARES leadership has worked closely to support the local ARES districts and to provide ARES mutual aid in the form of communications equipment and ARES trained manpower resources wherever and whenever needed.73,
Perry Lundquist, W6AUN
North Central CO Region ARES Emergency Coordinator
Edited by Jack Ciaccia, WMØG
Colorado Section Manager