Routt County hosts German firefighters

Local crews teach visitors fire management

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— The Craig-Routt Fire Management Unit is hosting two German students to northwest Colorado to learn fire management from local crews.

Andreas Casper, 26, and Boris Weigele, 23, are forestry science students from the University of Freiburg in Freiburg, Germany. They landed in Denver on Monday.

Since then the students have split time between Craig and Steamboat Springs to learn how Americans fight forest fires, Lynn Barclay, spokeswoman for Bureau of Land Management said. They will be here for two weeks.

On Friday, Casper and Weigele flew over the Mad Creek fire to see the burned area and inspect the Routt Divide Blowdown.

"We enjoyed it very much," Casper said, who is visiting the United States for the first time.

He said he was impressed by the amount of land and open spaces in Northwest Colorado, commenting that the opportunity to walk in the forest for days without seeing people is a new concept.

"Germany is a very small country with a lot of people," Casper said.

Through their university, Casper and Weigele are volunteers for the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) in Freiburg, which, under the auspices of the United Nations, monitors, forecasts and archives fires on a global level, according to the GFMC Web site. Weigele said wildland and forest fires are not common in Germany but the GFMC is organizing an international fire crew, to help fight fires in neighboring or underdeveloped countries.

Craig-Routt Fire Management Unit fire officials Mike Rieser and Rex Alford visited Germany in April of 2000 to teach Germans about fire safety. During that trip they made accommodations to receive Casper and Weigele

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