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Evergreen fire department providing residents information about fire risks, evacuation routes

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By Sandy Barnes

Brook Forest resident Carolyn Golba came to the March 12 meeting of the Evergreen Fire District Protection board to ask about evacuation routes in her neighborhood in the event of a wildland fire.

“I know there’s no easy answer,” she said.

Fire Chief Mike Weege replied that everyone in Brook Forest would have to take the primary route out of the community. If people were to take side roads, they may get lost, or caught up in a wildfire, he said.

Information about neighborhoods in the district regarding levels of fire danger and evacuation routes will soon be available on the fire district’s website, said Weege. 

“We do have the extreme areas done,” he said. 

Echo Hills, Brook Forest Estates, Upper Cub Creek, Rosedale Acres, Segar Acres, Beaver Brook Canyon, Highland Hills, the Chase subdivision, Elmgreen Acres, Pleasant Lane, Homestead Hideaway, Buffalo Park Estates and Evergreen Hills areas all have extreme hazard ratings, according to the community protection plan for the district.

Many other neighborhoods are in high-risk areas. Only a few Evergreen communities are rated in the moderate risk category, including Wah Keeney Park, Elk Ridge and Wilmot Woods.

The fire district also advises residents about levels of evacuation, Weege said.

“If you hear Level 1, start getting out,” said Weege.

Evacuation notices are sent through emergency-notification calls from the fire district, using information residents have submitted in the upgraded Code Red system.

A Level 1 notice means that residents should prepare to leave their homes. Level 2 means there a significant danger in the area, and residents should leave as soon as possible. Level 3 means residents need to evacuate immediately, and not take time to gather belongings.

While discussing evacuation routes, Weege said the district has worked hard with the Floyd Hill community, which is difficult in terms of roads.

Board member David Christensen said the fire district is also having discussions with Jefferson County on fixing roads needed for evacuation.

“To me, a wildfire in our area is like a hurricane back East,” said Evergreen resident Bob Gottsman. “It’s a beautiful place but has some potential hazards.”

Weege also said the firefighters are going to start wildland fire training soon. On red-flag days, firefighters will also get into gear and patrol areas of the district, he added.

Board member Jeff DeDisse said that one advantage Evergreen has over other remote areas is that so much of the terrain is visible. 

“Evergreen is seen by so many people,” DeDisse said.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Gottsman also expressed his views on the fire training facility under way at Fire Station 2.

Gottsman said that given the controversy over the project and upcoming recall election of the fire board, he believed the project should have been postponed.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of angry people in this community,” he said.

“If the current board should prevail, the offer to look at a second site still prevails,” said board member Charles Simons.

“There is a path I see out of this,” said Christensen. “We build the building now. Then two years down the road, we move it.”

“I think it’s easy to get lost in the fire training facility,” said newly appointed board member Valeri Lewsing, who has expressed her support for the project. “I think you’ve got to step back and look at the whole piece.” 

 

Evergreen Fire Protection District overview

• Coverage area: 125 square miles, including portions of Clear Creek County

• More than 40,000 residents in the district

• Fire Chief: Mike Weege

• Number of volunteer firefighters: 88

• Paid staff: 34 full-time employees; 11 part-time 

• Total projected annual revenue for 2013: $5,226,166

• Total budgeted expenses: $4,687,845*

*Does not include capital expenditures

Current information on response times not available