This is a while coming (been busy at work) but I was privileged to have fought the very serious Olde Stage Fire in Boulder for BMFPD a few weeks ago. This fire burned over 3000 acres, and was started when wind blew down a power line. I was on the fire from around 3 PM to getting home around 6:30 AM the next day. Needless to say, the wind conditions were less than amenable to firefighting. Here’s my account of some of the more interesting work (one of the three assignments I was on) I did that night:
Looking back at Right Ranch
With the flames mostly out
I was paged and at the station late afternoon. Two other guys and I met up with another couple of crews and fought a fire at Right Ranch. Conditions were horrible! The wind tore the tarp off the top of the firetruck before we ever got to flames, and we had to rope the hoses onto the top of the truck. I looked like an idiot chasing down the tarp right in front of the news vans. I’m glad they didn’t catch this part on film, or at least didn’t air it. Going into the fire, the flames were large, in grass, and fanned by winds (100 MPH was measured near where we were fighting). Almost immediately, we were forced to do a strategic retreat when fire threatened to cut off our one road out. We looked at flames licking at the sides of three houses on the way out, and our collective wisdom said “they’re gone”. Getting out of the firetruck was interesting with the high winds, trying to make sure the doors didn’t get blown off. Once in safety, we looked again at the houses, and decided to go back and fight the fire. We went back and hit the fire hard. I was on one of the two hoses, and even with the engineer supplying more than adequate water pressure, I couldn’t hit the fire 10 feet away, as the wind threw all the water right back on me (I was soaked!). We eventually worked our way around the most threatened two houses, and put out all the flames. We left a sprinkler running on the front porch to prevent that wooden structure from going up less the unburned bushes underneath light the whole portion on fire. This also helped me get identified later!
So on Saturday, the 17th, the residents held a party to thank the firefighters. I ran into person after person, who immediately put me in touch with the residents in two of the three houses we were actively protecting. One lady commented that she was impressed with the backburning we had done (black right up to the house). When I told her that “no, that was no backburning operation, the fires did come right up to her house,” she gave me a big hug, and wouldn’t stop. All in all, it felt great to have actually saved some folks houses. Normally, you don’t get to meet the people you help, but I did.