‘It’s absolutely huge’: Colorado fire departments react to disaster declaration

Local News

GRAND LAKE, Colo. (KDVR) — It has been more than a month since the East Troublesome Fire was officially contained, but the recovery is just beginning. 

From damaged homes, to debris cleanup, the drain on resources is unlike anything Grand Lake firefighters have seen before. 

“The best way I can put this, as far as an analogy goes, is five years worth of fire, in one night,” says Interim Fire Chief Seth St. Germain. “It wiped out everything we had in reserves for replacement equipment.”

St. Germain says that includes things like hose line, PPE, and foam. 

“A five gallon jug of foam is anywhere between $80 and $100, so we try to keep some in reserve,” he says. “We used all of it.”

Friday, President Trump approved a disaster declaration for Colorado, potentially paving the way for tens of millions of dollars in federal recovery funding. The declaration specifically targets Grand, and Larimer Counties, where the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome Fires burned.

“This is going to be huge for us, absolutely huge,” says St. Germain. 

In Larimer County, emergency management is hoping to finish an initial risk assessment by the end of January.

There’s concern the impacts of the Cameron Peak Fire could have wide-ranging impacts on the water system.

“We’ll be in recovery for several years, so this first year is pretty critical,” says Emergency Management Director Lori Hodges. 

Hodges says the declaration is the first step in what will ultimately be a lengthy, and costly, recovery.

“If we didn’t have this money, we do have a set budget, so there would only be so much we could do, so this gives us some capacity, which is great,” she says. 

One thing this money will not immediately cover, is private property damage. 

The request for individual assistance is still being reviewed by the federal government. 

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