w w w.cor tezjournal.com
Serving Cortez and Southwestern Colorado for more than a century.
June 26, 2012
VOL. 123, No. 037
n Mortensen wins 500.
n Ballots due today.
n Local graduates receive GEDs.
weber fire iNfO AND TiDibTS Inside today’s Journal
■ Photos pages 6-7A ■ Evacuaee stories,Page 2A ■ Bridge Shelter opens for evacuaees, Page 3A ■ Mancos community shows firefighter support, Page 5A ■ Fire line key, Page 2B ■ Updates: Go to cortezjournal.com ■ Acreage burned: 8,300 ■ Containment: ten percent ■ Fire personnel: 240 ■ Road closures: County Road G at County Road 41; County Road J at County Road 41; County Road 46 at Highway 160 ■ Weber Fire is now ranked as the third-highest wildfire priority in the nation, behind the High Park Fire in northern Colorado and the Waldo Canyon Fire, in Manitou Springs. ■ Red Cross evacuation center now at Montezuma-Cortez High School 317-4019. ■ Incident command center moved to Montezuma County Fairgrounds. ■ FEMA funding authorizes use of federal funds to Montezuma County to fight the fire at 75 percent of the cost. ■ Community briefing location moved to the Mancos High School performing arts center, at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. daily. ■ Limited water usage order issued by Montezuma County Sheriff ’s Office for the Mancos Rural Water District to preserve available drinking water. Homes due west to due north asked to not water down roofs. ■ Mancos Fire Hotline at 970-564-4999 or 970-5644996 ■ Latest information from the U.S. Forest Service: http://www.fs.usda.gov/sanjuan. ■ Inciweb fire incident information: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2937. ■ Fire perimeter map: http:// w w w . g e o ma c. g ov / v i e w e r / viewer.shtml. ■ Wildfire resoure information from CSU extension office: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/fire/index.html ■ Mesa Verde is open. All services and facilities at national park are open despite the wildfires burning east of the park. Restriction in the Park: No open fires are permitted within Mesa Verde National Park; no smoking is permitted outside of an enclosed vehicle within Mesa Verde National Park ■ Sign outside Zuma Natural Foods: “Firefighters & Officers, THANK YOU!! Coffee’s on us!” ■ “You can expectt incident command at the (Montezuma County) fairgrounds to begin to resemble a small city. We are just going to work to hold our own until we get those resources.” — Deputy Incident Commander Jay Esperance ■ “I’m so grateful at what they are doing for us. They are doing everything to save our structures and we owe them everything. This community has come around us and it has just meant so much.” — Evacuee Stacy Hess
Change in command Federal team takes over the Weber Fire battle By KimBerly Benedict Journal Staff Writer MANCOS — As the Weber Fire continued to grow Sunday and into Monday, a Type II federal firefighting crew assumed control of operations, taking over for the San Juan Type III team, which has been on the ground since late Friday afternoon. Rocky Mountain Type II Incident Management Team C arrived in the Mancos area Sunday afternoon and took over the battle against the Weber blaze ar 6 p.m. that night, relieving local crews, many of who had been fighting the fire for 48 straight hours. Connie Clementson, Bureau of Land Management agency administrator for the Weber Fire, made the decision to call in the Type II team from their base in South Dakota when it became clear the fire exceeded the resources of local management teams and would require more time than local teams normally commit to wildland fires. “The Type III teams are the interagency first response teams,” Clementson said at incident command located at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds on Monday morning. “They are the ones who
respond first to smoke calls and try to get on fires right away. We needed to be able to pull those people off this fire and allow them to get rest and then be able to utilize them if other fires break out in other locations.” Beth Hermanson, public information officer for Team C, said the Type II team doesn’t necessarily provide more experience than local response teams, but they do provide an additional level of training and strategic planning capabilities for dealing with large fires, such as the local blaze. “Type II is your basic level of firefighting,” Hermanson said. “Those teams are often made up of volunteers and local agencies. With Type III teams, we have been all over the U.S. managing fires. This is our job.” Team C began operations on the Weber Fire by shadowing Type III members, learning the geography of the region and the behavior of the fire, Hermanson said. The new crews were given information on what work had been done on the fire already and what strategy the Type III team had implemented in the region. Officials with the federal team
See change on Page 9a
Weber Fire now 10 percent contained By michael maresh and dale shrull Journal Staff Writers After more than three long, intense days, the zero has come off the board. At the 7:30 p.m. Monday briefing at Mancos High School, officials reported that the Weber Fire is now 10 percent contained. The fast-moving Weber Fire started around 4:20 p.m. Friday about three miles south of Mancos and now stands at an estimated 8,300 acres as of Monday night. This was the first full day of firefighting with the Type II federal team in charge. The total number of personnel fighting the blaze is now at 240. Ed Waggoner, operations section chief for the Type II team, said he anticipates the containment percentage number to be higher by today. John Lowe, incident commander, said that Monday’s firefighting efforts were very productive. “We got some good weather today but things could go wrong, we need to put this to bed as soon as possible,” he
said. The plan for the next three days is to attack the fire at day and night, Waggoner said. During the day, fire line crews will do preparation work, then at night, back burns will be conducted when the fire is not as active. Waggoner said the goal is to have the fire contained within six days if weather cooperates. Fire crews will be attacking and working on three separate sections of the fire. Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell was complimentary of fire crews and other officials who helped fight the blaze. “Today was a good day. I’m amazed at the work these people have done for our community,” he said. According to the news release, evacuation advisories remain in place for Echo Basin, County Road L, County Road 44, and the south side of Mancos. Road closures are in place to keep the area clear for incoming firefighting resources within the fire perimeter; they include County Road G at County Road 41, County Road J at County Road 41, County Road 46 at Highway 160.
A helicopter dumps water around a house as flames break out on the hillside above.
Making people feel comfortable Evacuation staff do their best to offer a home while the fire rages By michael maresh Journal Staff Writer
chris Zoller discusses the fire as a hot spot on Road 41 smolders.
Monday for two reasons — the larger size and the possibility the fire could switch directions toward Mancos. Ed Bulloch, a Red Cross volunteer who is stationed at M-CHS, said the school could handle more than 400 evacuees. If by chance the center reaches its capacity, Bulloch said that is when a call would be made to the national chapter to get the ball
Weber Fire evacuees who decide to take advantage of the American Red Cross resources at Montezuma-Cortez High School will be offered food, a place to sleep, shelter, clothes, medical services and non-alcoholic beverages. The evacuation center was moved to M-CHS from the performing arts center in Mancos on See feel on Page 5a