Firefighters help battle Paradox wildfire |

Firefighters help battle Paradox wildfire

BASALT – The fire departments of Basalt and Carbondale have sent equipment and crews to help fight the Sunrise Mine wildfire near Paradox.

A fire engine and crew of three from Basalt joined the firefighting effort Tuesday, Deputy Fire Chief Jerry Peetz said. The firefighters manning the engine are Greg Bailey, Duane Vasten and Kyle Pimdentel.

A tactical tender – a special water tanker – with a crew of two departed Carbondale on Sunday to join the firefighting effort on the Sunrise Mine wild fire, according to Assistant Fire Chief Frank Nadell.

Aspen Fire Chief Willard Clapper couldn’t be reached Wednesday with a question on whether Aspen firefighters have joined the effort.

Colorado fire departments can make equipment and personnel available for federal firefighting efforts. Federal officials call for supplemental help on large fires. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that 400 firefighters were battling the fire on the Colorado-Utah border.

The Basalt and Carbondale firefighters will be paid by the federal government. The fire departments are compensated by the feds for use of their equipment.

Firefighters from Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale undertook coordinated training earlier this month to deal with wildfires, in part because the danger is so high this spring. Peetz said the training, dubbed a wildland rodeo, was led by professional wildland firefighters with the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit.

“That’s how these guys make a living,” Peetz said of the federal firefighters. “We learn a ton from them.”

“The value of all this is the local fire departments train with the federal agencies,” Peetz said. They compare and coordinate tactics and strategies. It helps ensure they will be on the same page if they are pressed into service on a real wild fire, he said.

On May 19, about 30 firefighters from various agencies practiced firefighting maneuvers at the Crawford property in El Jebel. In layman’s terms, they practiced supplying water, connecting progressive hose packs that allow quick attack on the flanks of a fire and constructing hand lines used as fire breaks.

On May 20, firefighters practiced various wildfire-fighting techniques, such as structure protection, in the Elk Springs subdivision near the Spring Valley campus of Colorado Mountain College, Nadell said. Seven homeowners volunteered use of their property for the exercise.

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