FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Steve Lipsher, Public Information Officer
Office: (970) 262-5209
14 September 2015
Summit County fire departments send additional crews to California wildfires; Local wildfire danger inches up
Summit County’s three fire departments each have deployed teams of firefighters to the West Coast, where wildfires continue to burn amid historically bad conditions.
Meanwhile, Summit County’s wildfire conditions crept to “high” over the weekend for the first time this summer, although the threat is typical for this time of year as the grasses and shrubs dry out.
Nonetheless, the firefighters at Lake Dillon Fire, Copper Mountain Fire and Red, White & Blue Fire urged caution with any outdoor fire at this time of year.
Over the weekend, both Lake Dillon and Copper Mountain deployed three-person firefighting crews to the Valley Fire near Cobb, Calif., north of the Bay Area. Lake Dillon Fire sent engineer Dennis Jackson, engineer Bob Corcoran and firefighter Case Byl; and Copper Mountain sent Capt. Ryan Cole, engineer Mark Nielsen and Lt. Charlie Johnson.
The fire blew up over the weekend, destroying hundreds of homes and other buildings. It now is estimated at 61,000 acres and was only five percent contained by Monday morning, despite 1,255 firefighters on scene.
Lake Dillon Fire engineer Jeremy Antemesaris also has been deployed as a paramedic on the Last Inch Fire in northern Idaho.
Meanwhile, Breckenridge-based Red, White & Blue Fire has deployed paramedic Phil Graham to the Rough Fire, near Diablo, Calif., and a three-person crew – engine boss Jason Kline and firefighters/paramedics Jason White and Andy Heyne – has been assigned to the Carpenter Road fire near Willamette, Wash., since Sept. 3.
Each of Summit County’s three fire departments now have deployed multiple teams to West Coast wildfires in the past two months.
“We’ve been fortunate to have had regular rainfall all summer, and our fire danger was uncharacteristically low,” said Lake Dillon Fire Chief Jeff Berino. “That has allowed us the luxury of sending crews to California to get invaluable training on the fire lines.”
The federal government picks up the cost of travel, meals and lodging en route for the firefighters as well as their wages and meals on scene, and the local fire departments are reimbursed for the overtime expenses of bringing in off-duty firefighters to cover their normal shifts.
Red, White & Blue Fire Chief Jim Keating cautioned that although the county is not under the extreme wildfire danger that California is facing, destructive fires could be started with just a moment of carelessness.
“We had a couple of unattended-campfire calls this past weekend in which campers just went off and left campfires burn with no attempt to extinguish them,” he said. That is all it will take on the right day in the right place to have our own incident.”