GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Firefighters battling the Williams Fork Fire say a radio repeater suffered significant damage Wednesday.
According to firefighters, field staff found the damage while servicing a radio tower that had stopped working.
Firefighters say the lines that secure the tower had been cut, and the antenna was snapped off.
Incident command says the vandalism created a safety hazard for firefighters in the field, who rely on the radio repeaters for communication.
Firefighters discovered the vandalism Wednesday morning after a radio channel stopped working.
“We noticed that the command channel was not working,” says Incident Commander Paul Roose. “We set them up to be able to talk to one another, from firefighter to firefighter, division to division, as well as back to the incident command post.”
Roose says crews went to service the receiver and found it in pieces.
“The ropes were cut on the base of the antenna, and the antenna was damaged after it was on the ground,” says Roose.
He says the decision could have put firefighters in danger.
“It’s a big deal for firefighter safety, as well as public safety. The radios are our communication device to let folks know if the fire is doing anything,” he says.
Crews were able to fix the antenna with some spare parts, but Roose says there could be problems if it happens again.
“We did have replacement parts for it, but they are rather difficult to get and they take days to get in,” says Roose. “If it keeps happening, it’s going to cause a lot of issues for us.”
Officials say the vandalized tower was on public land on the north side of the fire.
The U.S. Forest Service is handling the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to email ARPPublicAffairs@FS.FED.US or call 970-887-4100