Amid cheers of the crowd, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden told the evacuees that they could go home today.
He had some cautions for residents. He asked that they limit driving during the hours of 6 to 9 a.m. and 7 to 10 p.m., peak hours for fire crews as they change shifts. “Do not call 911 if you see smoke,” he said. This week there will be hot spots and smoke, but crews are patrolling. “Call the non-emergency number if you must,” he added.
He said that most residents will be fine, but those near the perimeter of the fire might get another evacuation call if conditions warrant. “Be aware it is not out,”
He told the crowd that most of the area should have electrical power today. The exceptions being the extremes of Turkey Walk Trail and James Park Trail. He cautioned that the REA is responsible to the electric meter, but residents are responsible from there to their home.
In response to a question about allowing friends and family in to help out, Alderden said he would prefer to confine access to people who need to get in. However, there will be personnel on duty at the Bison Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to issue the access cards if needed.
After the Sheriff’s briefing, a member of the incident management team, representatives of the REA and the Health Department added some detail to some of the Sheriff’s comments.
There will be 55 people working on the fire during the day and engines patrolling at night. In addition to the fire equipment, that there will be REA and Qwest trucks and crews working inside the fire area and residents need to exercise caution, especially on roads.
“We will probably keep the helicopters available through Sunday,” he said. He cautioned the residents to stay away from the fire. “If you are in the middle of the black, you probably have nothing to worry about,” he said, but cautioned that people on the perimeter would need to keep alert.
The REA representative cautioned folks to check their lines from the meter to the house. Melted wires inside the conduit could be big trouble. He finished with, “Welcome home, We’ll try to keep the lights on for you.”
The Larimer County Health Department agent had a lot of cautions for those returning home. The department will provide dumpsters at Pinewood and Flightiron campgrounds for people to dispose of spoiled food, especially from refrigerators and freezes. “When in doubt, throw it out,” he said. He asked residents to bag the refuse before putting it in the dumpster. He also cautioned that wellheads should be checked if they had been near the fire. He also provided several handouts on how to check food and water supplies. He also advised a tetanus shot for everyone.
Just then, the Red Cross truck arrived with water, cookies and cleaning supplies. Some residents took advantage of what the Red Cross had to offer and others headed straight for their cars to get a good place in the line that formed along County Road 31.
All through the morning’s briefings, the evacuees were praising the work of the personnel involved; firefighters, management teams, the sheriff’s department and the Red Cross. By all accounts, most residents were very happy with the help and support they received.
United Way 2-1-1 has a packet of information that residents will find useful. it is available at the Bison Visitor Center.
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