By Sgt. William Smith (4th ID)June 24, 2013
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 21, 2013) -- One of the most destructive fires in Colorado history was 100-percent contained June 20 after burning about 16,000 acres in nine days and killing two people.
The Fort Carson Fire Department began supporting other agencies in fighting the Black Forest Fire with nine personnel, two brush trucks and one water tender the morning of June 12.
"Our biggest challenge in the beginning was trying to save as much property as we could with a limited amount of resources, while trying to keep our crews as safe as possible," said Capt. J.T. McLeod, FCFD.
"We were chased out of so many areas from the fire flaring up and becoming so intense and unpredictable," McLeod said. "Then, once the fire died back down, we would go back in and save what we could. So the first few days were the most challenging until the bigger crews arrived to help us."
Steve Reyes, firefighter and emergency medical technician, FCFD, said the crews extinguished fires close to homes, put in control lines securing the areas around homes and mopped up hot spots that the Black Forest Fire caused.
The firefighters agreed that even though they are extremely exhausted from fighting the fires the support they received has helped them give it their all.
"It is the community coming together to save homes and save lives. This fire has really driven that home," said McLeod said. "It has continued to amaze me, in my 20 years of doing this job, the way they come together like that and show us their support when we come into the command post every night, makes us work harder to get the job done. The way they have pulled together is nothing short of amazing . . . it makes me really proud to be part of this community."
Reyes said that when people get the message to evacuate they should do so immediately.
"There is nothing in their home worth dying for," Reyes said. "(Evacuating) allows the firefighters to get in and do their job much more effectively. If we don't have to worry about people that have not left their homes, we can focus on saving as much property and structures as we can."
McLeod said having the yard picked up around a home can make a huge difference in the event of a fire.
"It is the smaller things on the ground consisting of yard waste, pine needles, weeds and smaller trees that might carry fire into the crown of larger trees," he said. "If you can keep the fire on the ground, it doesn't grow as intense. Fire will travel through the lighter fuels very fast, so it won't have a chance to heat the house."
Reyes said everyone should have an evacuation plan ready in the event of a tragedy such as the Black Forest Fire. They need to make sure when officials say it is time to go that they have everything in order.
"We are moving into a very bad fire season and we are still in a drought," Reyes said. "People just need to be extremely vigilant and careful with what they are doing," said Reyes.