September 27, 2013
NEWS RELEASE – OFFICIAL STATEMENT
Canyon Fire was struggling with our membership numbers earlier this year. We lost several seasoned members due to retirement or relocation. However with the implementation of our new wildland Team we gained 3 new members and we also accepted another 3 new full time members. This brought our membership up to 19. Our probationary members and Public Information Officer got hands on training they never anticipated.
The first night of flooding found most of our department checking on residents in our district which includes the Big Thompson Canyon from the narrows up to Waltonia and encouraging them to move to safety.
When the Big Thompson River breeched the highway at mile marker 74.5 Loveland Fire and Rescue and BTCVFD performed a technical Tyrolean rope rescue bringing 6 people across the river to safety when their private bridge was destroyed.
When the river breeched Highway 34 at MM81 several evacuation points were established; one was at Bartram Park under the command of Assistant Chief Tim Brady, with the assistance of Paramedic Jenica Butts and firefighter Jason Tanner. This team evacuated 75 people to safety using ATV’s and a hastily improved Bear Track Road.
Another breech further up canyon found Chief Bill Lundquist and firefighters Mark Svoboda and John Miller sheltering over 35 evacuees at Fire Station 8 and the BTCA building.
Firefighter Jack Patterson sheltered over 15 evacuees near his residence after checking on families the rest of the way up to Drake. Firefighter Delbert Nusbaum was also in this section of Drake.
The community of Storm Mountain found the most residents isolated, but for the most part safe from the flood waters. They were fortunate to have a larger team of Canyon members available to assist in the evacuations. Lead by Lt. Shawn Neal, Captain Dave Legits, firefighters Bill Powers, Dave Phillips, and Aaron Klee, wildland team members Derek Weber and Matt Charboneau and Public Information Officer Karen Debenham, worked nonstop for ten days. From checking on residents with medical needs to scouting alternative egress roads to coordinating efforts with the Sheriff’s department and the Type II Incident Management Team—they did it all with extreme professionalism.
Chief Lundquist commented that he was very proud of every member involved in the event. He said “Everyone was in the right place with the right skills needed.”
Statistically, over 400 residents and guests in our district were safely air-lifted. Approximately 100 individuals of the Storm Mountain community have chosen to shelter in place and “weather out the storm”.
Submitted by Karen Debenham, Public Information Officer