Press Releases

Firefighters now fearing floods in Colorado hills

By P. Solomon Banda,, The Associated Press
Saturday July 06, 2002

DENVER — Firefighting crews laid straw on charred hillsides and placed concrete barriers along roads Friday to prevent floods in areas stripped bare by wildfires. 

A tenth of an inch could send water and debris down Mitchell Creek toward homes in Glenwood Springs, said Guy Meyer of Garfield County Emergency Management. About 200 homes were evacuated for a few hours Thursday because of the threat of flooding. 

Dozens of trucks and front-end loaders were used to install concrete blocks to convert roads into a diversion channel that would move rainwater away from a subdivision toward the Colorado River. 

“We’re going to probably leave this up there for at least two years until that area is vegetated and the threat of mudslides dissipates,” Meyer said. 

Crews also put down hay and straw, kept in place with netting, to absorb rain. 

“We all pretty much knew that there was a part two to this and that the fire in and of itself wasn’t the end of it,” Meyer said. 

The wildfire burned 138,000 acres, destroyed 29 homes and crept to within a few miles of Denver’s southern suburbs before it was contained Tuesday. Thunderstorms were forecast through Saturday for Glenwood Springs and other burned areas. 

Near Durango, firefighters were gaining the upper hand on a 73,145-acre wildfire that was 75 percent contained. Four ranches and 34 homes remained evacuated. 

Wildfires also burned Friday in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. 

In northeastern Arizona, officials tallied the damage from the state’s largest-ever wildfire, which burned 469,000 acres during the last two weeks. It was 90 percent contained Friday. 

Officials said the blaze caused at least $28 million in damage and destroyed 467 homes. No homes have been lost in recent days, but the figure rose because fire departments were able to reach secluded homes that weren’t counted initially.