Summit Daily letters: Praise for Breckenridge Peak 2 Fire response
To our incredible partners, citizens, and businesses of Summit County:
Early in the afternoon of July 5, we were swiftly pulled away from our normal routines and brought together on a hillside within the Silver Shekel neighborhood to coordinate fire suppression efforts. From that vantage point we watched the plume of smoke darken and the flames move rapidly, and a tangible, unsettling sense of concern overcame us. At that same moment we felt concern, we also felt a sense of overarching conviction and commitment among the team of partners to work together to protect the community as best we could. Regardless of what the fire was going to do, we knew that we could expect a unified, prepared and supportive community that could persevere through any unforeseeable circumstance.
Sometimes in an emergency situation there are opportunities to test and strengthen relationships. To go beyond ourselves, work with our neighbors and to rely on the hard work of preparation for the unimaginable. Neighbors in this frightening situation were the community members of the Peak 7 area and surrounding subdivisions. By evacuating their homes and being prepared to follow emergency directions, they showed and tested their strength and preparedness. The resiliency of our community and organizations within Summit County became immediately apparent.
Within hours of the fire starting, the Summit County Elks Lodge was busy preparing food for firefighters, the Red Tail Ranch was allowing helicopters to utilize their water sources, the local Red Cross was providing shelter for evacuees at Summit Middle School, the Summit County Animal Shelter volunteers set up temporary pet accommodations for evacuees, local businesses began sending food, water and supplies, and the Summit High School was transformed into an information and command center.
The outpouring of support, gratitude and generosity was like nothing we have seen before. And we thank you for being so welcoming to the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team and all the firefighters that came here to help.
We were lucky the weather was on our side for the Peak 2 fire, and even though the threat of this fire has dwindled, our community would be remiss to overlook the vulnerabilities that still remain across our county. With approximately 99 percent of Summit County’s total population living within the Wildland Urban Interface, we must continue to mitigate the fuel hazards created by the mountain pine beetle outbreak and actively manage the boundary where forest and urban development meet. Reducing fire hazard comes in many forms, including timber harvesting, slash pile burning and creating defensible space through the Summit County Chipping Program and the Summit County Wildfire Mitigation Grants Program. We encourage you to look into local programs and get involved. Action taken by homeowners in advance of wildfire is one of simplest things that can be done to prevent the loss of life and property.
We also need everyone to be careful with fire when enjoying the outdoors. An estimated 84 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans. Many human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, and carelessly discarded cigarettes. Please continue to observe fire restrictions and make sure your campfire is cold upon leaving.
The Peak 2 fire has presented us with an opportunity to look ahead and prepare for the next wildfire as a community. While much remains to be done throughout the county, we are extremely thankful for the good work that has been completed and the support to continue fuels reduction projects. The Peak 2 fire was an excellent test for our community and the results are encouraging. On behalf of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, Red White & Blue Fire Protection District, and the U.S. Forest Service, we express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for the support, generosity, and cooperation that the community demonstrated during the Peak 2 fire.
District Ranger, Dillon Ranger District – White River National Forest
Undersheriff, Summit County Sheriff’s Office
Fire Chief, Red White and Blue Fire District
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