A smoky pall lay over the foothills and the Thompson Valley this morning as an overnight inversion layer kept the smoke from the Reservoir Road Fire close to the ground. The inversion also kept the aerial tankers from the fire site until 10:15 a.m.
At the morning press briefing incident commander Major Bill Nelson of the Larimer County Sheriff’s office told the media and the residents in attendance that the fire had been relatively quite during the night but was about to cross over Cottonwood Creek on the north edge of the fire. The teams are working the north side trying to prevent the fire from reaching the upslope where it will travel rapidly. Nelson said that the airdrops would be trying to contain that perimeter.
Nelson commented that we were very fortunate that resources were in the area and could be moved quickly from the Fourmile Canyon Fire to this fire. If not for that circumstance, it would have been several days before the tankers and hotshot crews would have been able to respond.
He said the weather has been mostly favorable for fighting the fire. The biggest problem is the extremely low humidity.
P.J. Dipentino, who lives on Greenwood Drive, near Pinewood Reservoir, asked about the location of the fire. Major Justin Smith of the sheriff’s office provided some topographic maps with the current fire location shaded in. Nelson used the graphic to show the media where the teams were concentrating their efforts along the north edge of he fire. DiPentino was relived that the active fire had passed his neighborhood and no homes were lost. Nelson also explained that there are areas inside that perimeter that remain unburned.
After the press conference, Nelson met with evacuees and tried to answer their questions. Upper most in their minds was, “When can we go back in.” “Probably not today,” he said. He explained that the electric power to the entire area had been shut off, though he hoped to have it back on this afternoon. He said it was still too dangerous for residents to enter and his crews needed the roadways for moving their equipment; having civilian traffic would hinder the operation. He also said that the crews need to concentrate on fighting the fire, not on providing assistance to residents and he did not want to have someone in the path of an air tanker drop.
“There were no structures lost during the night,” he said and confirmed that firefighters were trying to protect homes. In response to a comment that some people did not evacuate, he shrugged and said. “They are not going to leave.”
Colorado House District 49 Representative, B.J. Nikkel has been at the Bison Center area for the past two days. Nikkel lives not far away to the south of the fire. She said, “After receiving several reverse 911 calls it hits you pretty hard.” Nikkel was at the Bison Center yesterday helping evacuees, making sure they registered so people could find them. “I was standing with Christensen’s as they watched their home go up in flames. It was very sad. … I’m just doing what I can to help,” she said.
Red Cross representative, Steven Olsen was present at the conference. He said that 51 people checked in at the evacuation center and seven stayed at the church overnight. “We try to provide safety and comfort. We had large screen TVs so people could stay informed. As it got later, people drifted off to stay with friends or go to a motel.” He recommended that evacuees go to the website, www.safeandwell.org to register that they are “safe and well” and those who worry about them can go to the site to search for their name. He also asked that people not bring donations to the evacuation center. Those who wish to donate should go to www.coloradoredcross.com for information on how to help.
A national incident management team is on site and a transfer of command is planned for 6 p.m. The team consists of members who had been at the Boulder Fire and can now be transferred to the Reservoir Road Fire. The team brings expertise in managing complex situations involving a large amount of resources. This is actually a relatively small operation for the team and were they not already in the area we probably would not have their services for this fire.
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