GLEN HAVEN, Colo. (KDVR) — Sometimes the smallest communities have the most at stake when disaster decides to knock at their door.
Glen Haven is no stranger to dealing with catastrophic weather. The unincorporated town was destroyed by a flood in 2013. Now, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, Cameron Peak, is marching through the mountain community.
“We’re all evacuated right now so we’re out of our homes,” said Chief Kevin Zagorda with the Glen Haven Area Volunteer Fire Department. “Most of us are staying with relatives or up in Estes Park.”
The department has a little more than a dozen volunteers, and a budget that is roughly the same as a professional firefighter’s salary. They pay for all of their efforts through community donations and fundraising like their annual pancake breakfast.
But the Cameron Peak Fire has demonstrated just how valuable those unpaid volunteer services can be to a community.
“Especially the past two days where we’ve been able to fight the fire directly,” Zagorda said. “They feel like they’re making a difference. They saved multiple homes yesterday.”
A big reason why homes out in Glen Haven were protected is the department’s dedication to making the area a FireWise Community through hours of mitigation work, training and educating homeowners.
“I was astounded at how many houses had been burned right around and had been still standing,” Zagorda said.
According to the chief, there are roughly 400 homes in the area, and half of them are being impacted by the fire.
The hours have been long, and the fire activity has put a strain on the small department’s resources.
“I spent $15,000 to rebuild the pump and the water system on that truck and it failed the other day after pumping about 40,000 gallons of water in a day,” Zagorda said. “We’ve lost a truck, we’ve lost a portable pump, which Home Depot has graciously supplied us with a new one free of charge.”
If you would like to help the Glen Haven Area Volunteer Fire Department, you can visit their website and click the “donate” button.