Wishing better and wetter days ahead for Western Slope

As the Alaska Type 1 Incident Management Team departs Colorado, we would like to extend thanks to the residents of Eagle, Glenwood Springs and surrounding communities in the Colorado River Valley who were impacted by the Grizzly Creek Fire and our presence fighting it.

Your tremendous support, cooperation and patience during the past two weeks has been inspiring. We would also like to acknowledge the White River National Forest, BLM Colorado River Valley field office, Colorado Department of Transportation and Garfield and Eagle counties for their assistance and cooperation in trying to restore some semblance of normalcy to fire-impacted communities. While our assignment ends with the Grizzly Creek Fire at 91% containment, we realize there is still much work to be done and the ramifications of this fire will be long-lived with the potential for mud slides and flooding. We can only hope that Mother Nature decides to give Coloradoans a break; you folks certainly deserve one after what you have endured this summer.

We found it a bit ironic that on our last day at the fire the weather took a dramatic U-turn and resembled the conditions we are used to in Alaska. Needless to say, we were not expecting snow and freezing temperatures in early September. Evidently, Alaska and Colorado have more in common than we thought. While we are partial to our home state, we have to admit northwest Colorado is a special place. We can only hope the landscape heals quickly and Coloradoans can get back to enjoying the beauty that is the Rocky Mountains.

Norm McDonald

Incident commander, Alaska Incident Management Team