August 20, 2019

Golden Fire Update: March 30, 2011

"Thank You Firefighters" The photo is a little awkward but the sentiment isn't. Golden firefighters were very excited to see this written in chalk on a street in Mountain Ridge.

The Fire
We haven’t seen any sort of official notice that the fire is completely out – it might actually take a while – but for all intents and purposes the Indian Gulch Fire is done. Jefferson County crews spent the weekend getting a few hot spots and doing some mitigation work behind Mountain Ridge (where fire crews had dug fire line). There may be some more mop up on the fire, and there will be more mitigation work required as well, but the fire itself is over.

The fire wrap-up: It burned a total of 1,570 acres. No homes were lost and there were no injuries. The city’s emergency response systems worked extremely well, and our staff is already analyzing what we did, where the few hiccups were, and how to do it even better next time (whenever it is that next time comes). Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink deserves a special mention: his department did a great job coordinating the response, managing the dozens of agencies that sent crews to help, and managing the handoff to the federal incident team when they arrived.

Kudos
As you all know, our firefighters did a fantastic job all the way through the fire and even afterward (we sent a crew down to Douglas County to help them with their own fire). I also want to call out the many other City of Golden staff that stepped up. Our water department focused on keeping the water pressure up, Parks & Recreation de-winterized the Splash in a matter of hours so that we could provide firefighters with hot showers and a place to stage, our police department worked hard to make sure our firefighters had the room and access they needed, the communications team was in overdrive, and so on. And the work continues even now, such as the work our streets crew is doing to protect our water supply.

Plenty of folks posted information, photos, and stories during the fire, but I want to call out two in particular:

Councilor Bill Fisher did something cool as well, pulling together news articles and other links. I’d love to know about any other web sites or blogs where folks posted their images, recollections, and other info. That was a week to remember, for sure.

Lessons
I learned a lot this past week, not the least of which was the power of Facebook and Twitter during a crisis for both sharing information and listening, and Council Fisher and I will gather our thoughts and share what we learned in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I also learned that the fire retardant slurry dropped by the air tankers also contains some fertilizer and seed to help with revegetation after the fire.

Celebrating
Finally, among the most amusing and heartwarming moments for me was hearing so many Mountain Ridge residents express their deepest gratitude to the firefighters and insist on throwing a party to thank them, while simultaneously hearing our firefighters express their deepest gratitude to the Mountain Ridge residents, and insist on throwing a party to thank them! Chief Bales mentioned the other day that you usually have to worry about your firefighters losing too much weight during a fire, and he joked that his firefighters were so well fed and cared for by the Mountain Ridge neighborhood that he was worried last week about the opposite. In any case, this seems like a win-win opportunity for everyone to throw a party, thank each other for stepping up as only Golden neighbors can do, and express our collective gratitude that we didn’t lose any homes or suffer any injuries. I’m under the impression that the Mountain Ridge folks actually want to plan something in the coming weeks, and the City, City Council, and I are all happy to help and support. Whoever has already started to plan this please let me know and we can make sure everyone is on the same page.

I can’t say enough about this community, and every hour of the fire I was reminded how blessed I am to get to live here. Neighbors looked out for each other, people came to help Golden and Jefferson County from all over the state, community organizations banded together to provide even more aid and support, and despite the number of moving parts and the potential for chaos we somehow all made it work. Even our use of email, Twitter, and Facebook – among the things that Councilor Fisher and I focused on – wouldn’t have worked so well if so many other folks didn’t repost, retweet, and forward. Even the communication efforts ended up being an incredible community collaboration.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone.