Letter to the editor: Breckenridge should learn lessons from Marshall and Paradise fires | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: Breckenridge should learn lessons from Marshall and Paradise fires

Jay Johnson

I recently visited with Breckenridge Town Manager Rick Holman to discuss the current wildfire evacuation plan and my upcoming visit with Boulder County officials to learn lessons from the Marshall Fire.

During my visit with Holman, I made a statement regarding the real risks to the number of casualties that could occur in Breckenridge if we experience a Tenmile Peak fire with northwest winds greater than 35 mph.

With 35,000 tourists and 15,000 cars, that is a line of traffic 57 miles long. If escape is blocked to the north, traffic studies by the director of emergency management indicate it could take five to seven hours to evacuate.

A crowning wildfire travels at 5-9 mph. A structure fire doubles in size every two minutes. Tenmile Peak is 3 miles from Main Street.

The first buildings at risk of fire would be the sheriff’s office, Breckenridge Police Department and the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District. And Breckenridge roads will be totally gridlocked.

I asked Holman whether any of my recommendations from my research on deficiencies in the current wildfire evacuation plan and lessons learned from the Paradise, California, fire had been given to our town council.

He said, “no.”

My concern changed from deficiencies and inadequacy of the current emergency evacuation plan to one person acting as the arbiter of truth and hiding, filtering or blocking information from town officials after making up their own mind regarding public safety risks and emergency evacuation preparedness.

Should this be allowed?

If current or future council members or residents want a copy of my research to improve preparedness for catastrophic wildfire and evacuation planning for Breckenridge, to reduce loss of life risk like in the Paradise and Boulder fires, email me at jay.johnsonstg@gmail.com.

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