April 11, 2022

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse visit NCAR Fire burn area

A little more than two weeks after the NCAR Fire, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse looked over the burn area and saw green growth already beginning to replace the blackened ground.

But a line of red fire retardant between the burn area and a south Boulder neighborhood is still visible, a reminder of how a few hundred yards of grass and a line of firefighters were all that stood between a wall of flames and homes on Stony Hill Road.

“It’s pretty darn close,” Wildfire Operations Specialist Erin Doyle said about the edge of the fire, which burned 190 acres and forced thousands of evacuations in south Boulder before it was contained.

Thankfully, the fire was contained before it damaged any structures, a feat Neguse called “impressive” as he, Bennet and Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett met Monday with Boulder fire officials.

“We couldn’t be more grateful to the firefighters and to law enforcement,” Neguse said. “Our county has been no stranger to fires, especially these last couple of years, and it’s nice to be able to come and thank them.”

Earlier in the day, Neguse sent a letter to Democratic leadership “urging swift consideration of wildfire suppression and resiliency legislation.” Neguse in the letter specifically pointed to a series of bills he introduced that would increase federal support available to communities in the aftermath of a wildfire, overhaul federal firefighter pay and support wildfire prevention, suppression, and recovery efforts.

“Our communities are burning, and we cannot wait any longer,” Neguse wrote.

Brian Oliver, one of the incident commanders on the NCAR Fire, told Neguse that mitigation efforts, including grazing, in the area of the NCAR Fire were crucial in slowing its spread.

“It ran right into a place where fuels have been reduced,” Oliver said.

Oliver also noted firefighters had done training in that area, and so were familiar with the terrain and the challenges.

“The right people with the right training,” Oliver said.

Bennet credited Boulder County with once again rising to the challenge in the face of yet another wildfire and said the quick containment of the NCAR Fire was a “perfect illustration” of the skill and know-how local fire crews have shown in the past few years.

“Things could have been a lot worse,” Bennet said. “But these guys knew exactly what they were doing. They planned for it, they planned for it, they planned for it, and that’s what we’re having to do around the state as well.”

Bennet had just come from a roundtable discussion about wildfires that included officials with the U.S. Forest Service. While Boulder County residents are surely tired of natural disasters, Bennet said, they have made local emergency responders into a great resource.

“Boulder County has now been through the 2013 floods, all these fires; they have muscle memory about what works, what doesn’t work,” Bennet said. “It’s really useful to put these federal officials, especially ones that are new … in front of this group of people. Because it gives you the chance to actually fix things, which is what Congressman Neguse and I are going to go back and try to do.”

By:  Mitchell Byars
Source: Boulder Daily Camera