An eight-minute video appeared on YouTube a few days ago that describes some of the impacts of last September’s Fourmile Canyon fire on the fire departments. The video is a little mysterious in that it appears to be professionally produced and there is no description, other than “©2010 Thia Martin”. It was posted by “thiadena” and the credits say “Production By Thiadena”. A search for that name yields a web site for Thiadena Studio in Boulder, Colorado, and a Linkedin page for Thia Martin “President at Thiadena Studio”.
The fire started on September 6, 2010 and burned 6,200 acres and 169 homes a few miles west of Boulder, Colorado. The fire was devastating to local fire districts within the burned perimeter in several ways, including the facts that the homes of 12 firefighters burned, one fire station and an engine inside burned, and the fire districts will be facing a major reduction in revenues due to the lost homes which will reduce the tax base.
A December 22 article at New West provides more details about the effects of the fire on the local fire districts. Here is an excerpt:
…But for many of those volunteers, the Fourmile Fire continues to be daunting months after the embers have cooled, leaving an aftermath that firefighters continue to battle on many fronts.
“The fire continues every day for everyone involved in the department. It permeates everything you do,” said Brett Haberstick, chief of the Sunshine Fire District, the hardest hit agency in the blaze. “You can’t escape it. There are times when it’s just too much, and you have to take a break, but it’s a job you never leave.”
Haberstick faces severe revenue loss, manpower shortages, and wide-scale rehabilitation and erosion-control needs amid the loss of the departmental records. He and the other chiefs from the affected districts work daily on a complex set of needs from constituents, who individually face a baffling array of insurance, erosion, forest rehabilitation, disposal and building issues complicated by the predictable entry of a few charlatans and thieves.
“It’s been hard, but the district remains strong and continues to provide coverage for our constituents,” Haberstick said. “Sunshine took a big blow, but it wasn’t a knockout punch.”
At least 12 firefighters lost homes in districts that typically have 30 to 40 active members. One of those was veteran firefighter Rod Moraga, an expert in wildfire fuels, mitigation, management and pre-attack planning who founded a nationally prominent wildland fire consulting company, the Anchor Point Group. Now building a new home in Boulder, Moraga said he, and that expertise, will not likely return to the Four Mile Fire District.
“I don’t know how many of us are still really active,” he said, “because even the people who didn’t lose their homes are extremely busy – cutting trees around their home, dealing with insurance claims for smoke damage. …
“I had to completely remove myself from that (the volunteer department),” Moraga said. “Every single day I am dealing with e-mail or phone calls from the insurance people, the county, getting debris removed, getting my house (remains) scraped. There just isn’t enough time.”
And for the fire chiefs for the affected districts – Sunshine, Four Mile and Gold Hill took the brunt of home loss, though Sugarloaf was involved to a lesser extent – it will be some time before they are out of the woods, perhaps even another two years, said Allen Owen, the Boulder District…
More information about the Fourmile Canyon fire:
Map of the Fourmile Canyon fire (after the second day of the fire).