Silverthorne Police Dept. seeks reimbursement for fire assistance
SILVERTHORNE – The Silverthorne Police Department is hoping to collect more than $3,000 from the state’s forest service, but administrators aren’t holding their breath.
When the Hayman Fire southeast of Summit County grew to catastrophic proportions, police and fire agencies responding to the wildfire put out calls for assistance to surrounding counties. The Park County Sheriff’s Office solicited help from Summit officers to block roads in the fire area and direct traffic. The Silverthorne Police Department and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call.
Four Silverthorne officers spent a total of 112 hours on duty and traveling back and forth to Park County. The department paid the officers for their overtime work and Friday sent a bill to the Colorado State Forest Service in an attempt to recoup the cost. The officers earned just over $3,350 for their work.
“We hope we get it, but you never know,” said Silverthorne police administrative assistant Verna Pottle. “The forest agencies are so underfunded, but everybody’s budgets are tight right now, so we have to ask.”
Pottle said if the state forest service can’t reimburse the department, police officials will request funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or another federal unit. Pottle said the department wouldn’t press the issue after that, and, if no check arrives, “the department would have to eat it.”
If the bill goes unpaid, it won’t affect agencies’ and officers’ willingness to help other jurisdictions, Pottle said. With wildfire danger still high, Summit County could need the same assistance, she said.
State forest service officials could not be reached for comment. But according to the Associated Press, the U.S. Forest Service’s firefighting budget for this fiscal year was depleted two weeks ago. The federal agency spent the $321 million budgeted for nationwide firefighting and expects to spend $645 million more by the end of the year.
Capt. Derek Woodman said the Summit County Sheriff’s Office will not seek reimbursement for overtime paid to deputies who assisted at fire scenes. The Sheriff’s Office provided security details in Park County, as well as Glenwood Springs, and will send four officers to Gunnison next week for a Hell’s Angels rally.
Woodman said the assistance is “provided gratis as a policy of mutual aid.”
“God forbid anything should happen here, but we would count on them just the same,” Woodman said.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or email@example.com.
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