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CORTEZ JOURNAL

Aid

Other departments also responded From Page 1B out on Friday, knew that there would be no pay for their work. The rewards would come in a different way. Maybe a handshake or a pat on the back, but the Mancos department knows that if and when a fire or another emergency occurs in a neighboring community, they will grab their gear and rush to help those communities in need. Mancos firefighter Natasha Aspromonte, who was one of the more than 20 first responders to the Weber Fire, said she had to remain focused on the job. “You detach your emotions while trying to get as many firefighters out there as possible,” she said. “We knew everything down there in the canyon that was threatened,” she said. The fire grew incredibly fast, jumping from 30 acres, to 100 to 300 and to 800 acres in 24 hours. But there was success. “The structures are still standing,” Aspromonte said. “We have not lost one yet.” That fact brings pride to the Mancos department. She said the volunteer fire department is now watching over the entire community, but added if a home is threatened, firefighters will be sent there to sit by the house to implement precautions to save the structure. Mancos firefighter Wyatt Cox said the volunteer department takes pride in saving homes and it’s extremely important in a small community that bands together in difficult times. Cox said he knew many of the evacuees and he feels bad for them. “It just wants you to work that much harder to save their homes,” he said. But he said that the department fights hard to save every home whether it’s a wildfire or an individual structure fire. Dolores, Lewis Arriola, Pleasant View and Rico departments were among those volunteer units that responded to the Weber Fire. Other fire districts and departments The Cortez Fire Protection District firefighters, who helped fight the Weber Fire, were funded by the federal government, not the district, said Cortez Fire Protection District Fire Chief Jeff Vandevoorde. He said trying to bal-

“You detach your emotions while trying to get as many firefighters out there as possible” Natasha Aspromonte Mancos firefighter

“It really doesn’t put a burden on us,” he said. “We just have to be very careful not to deplete our manpower.” Vandevoorde said two firefighters and a tanker just returned after helping fight the High Park fire near Fort Collins for two weeks. He said the two firefighters were sent to the Northern Colorado fire well before the Weber Fire started on Friday. Lewis Arriola Fire Protection District Chief George Deaver said his 28-member volunteer department still has two structure engines and six firefighters in Mancos. He said they will be there until there is no longer any danger to homes. Deaver said some of the services it provided will be paid through a mutual-aid contract through the state, and some services will be a volunteer assist with no compensation. “We would have been there helping them out whether or not we were getting paid,” Deaver said.

ance its time between working on the Weber Fire near Mancos and serving the residents of Cortez was the challenge. He said using a few firefighters to help out with the Weber Fire did not deplete services from the local community too much. Every day the district sends two firefighters and a brush truck from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. to the Weber Fire while being vigilant on having manpower availReach Michael Maresh able for emergencies in at michaelm@cortezjourCortez. nal.com

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SATURdAy, JUNE 30, 2012

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