Lake Dillon Fire sends crew to Indian Gulch blaze
Always eager to help out neighbors, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue responded to a request from federal fire managers and dispatched a three-person engine crew to the Indian Gulch wildfire west of Golden on Tuesday.
The crew – Assistant Chief Bruce Farrell and firefighters Aaron Kaltenbach and K.G. Schave – had been called Tuesday evening to help defend houses from the 1,200 acre blaze in Jefferson County. They responded in an LDFR four-wheel-drive, wildfire-oriented engine. By Wednesday, however, most of the firefighting efforts had shifted and were focused on containment in the steep, rocky backcountry – requiring ground crews.
“We were glad to get the call and happy to pitch in,” Farrell said. “We stood ready to assist our neighbors in Jeffco, but due to the terrain where the fire was being fought, ground crews were needed more than engine crews.”
Noting that the wildfire season in the West has grown by an average of 78 days over the last decade, LDFR Deputy Chief Jeff Berino said that fire departments throughout the region must count on each other for help when large fires break out.
“With all of the environmental conditions that we have in the Colorado mountains – dry vegetation, beetle-killed trees, drought, wind – we all know that we’re just a careless match or a lightning strike away from needing the cavalry,” Berino said.
Under federal wildland firefighting guidelines, the department will be reimbursed by the federal government for the wages of the firefighters, overtime costs for their fill-ins back in the district and associated expenses.
Although plenty of snow remains on the ground in Summit County to keep the wildfire danger in check for the time being, the series of blazes on the Front Range should encourage local property owners to take steps now to protect their homes and property. This is an excellent time of year to burn slash piles – permits are available for free at Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue – and to clear vegetation around homes to create “defensible space.” Call LDFR at (970) 262-5201 for more details.
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