A structural fire occurred at our garage July 3 in the Willow Creek Subdivision above Clark. We would like to say “thank you” to all responding parties. As we all know, many fires have ravaged areas of Colorado. Until you have actually experienced acute fear while watching flames shoot into the air, swirling with a force of its own, or had your heart break with the loss of so many precious memories destroyed, no one can truly understand the devastation. A fire is unequivocally a force of its own, tantalizing yet so very destructive.
We would like to start with thanking the Routt County Sheriff’s Department. A small stream of smoke was observed by Deputy Juan Berber working in the Steamboat Lake area. He immediately contacted co-worker Deputy Brian Wojtkiewicz in the Willow Creek area. Between the two astute deputies, the fire was quickly located, defined as structural in nature and fire departments contacted. During this time, Berber and Wojtkiewicz determined no one was in the structure or nearby home.
Within minutes, the Routt County fire department arrived on the scene. One must know these are volunteer men who leave their jobs and families without any compensation. Many thanks and gratitude to the following: Bob Reilley, Mike Swinsick, Scott Andre, Don Crane, Larry Klingman, Stu Koci, Greg Murray, Ty Upson, Nate Morgansn and Alex Bork. Joining these fabulous local firefighters were Steamboat Springs firemen Captain Michael Arce, Devin Borvansky and John Rockwood.
Watching these firefighters is mesmerizing while terrorizing. They are totally in sync with one another, knowing what is to occur next, expertly handling the massive long hoses as the hose undulates with changing water pressure. A person’s heart freezes as the men gear up in bunker gear (structural personal equipment) and actually enter the burning structure, enduring the constant spray of water, smoke spiraling around them, with the subconscious understanding of not knowing what the building contents are.
All of these fabulous men constantly worked the fire, from different directions, with varying equipment until all flames were extinguished. In continuous motion was EMT Larry Klingman performing medical monitoring of each fireman. Each is tested for temperature, dehydration, smoke inhalation and fatigue. Again, one is reminded how these men are like trained military — they know and understand how to protect and trust one another while performing their job.
Another professional and compassionate individual is Routt County Detective TJ Sisto. Sisto investigated the scene to determine the exact cause of the fire, made sure we were completely informed of the situation and asked some very tough questions, all the while being calm and assuring. Sisto returned once the area was cooled with Detective Jerry Means, of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and wonder dog Sadie.
Few in the public understand the systematic particulars of sifting through ash and melted debris, moving charred timbers to precisely locate the point of fire origin. Both were patient and technical explaining hot points, burn pattern, ammunition explosion tendencies and flammable substance patterns. Sadie is the leading arson investigation canine of the United States. She is owned and trained by Means. (Means and Sadie have competed across the United States with 240 other arson teams to achieve a richly deserved first place. They are celebrities on their own who have appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and with Betty White.)
Once Sadie concluded arson was not an issue, she was returned to her “personal chariot.” Sisto and Means continued the investigation, concluding hours later the exact cause and location of the fire. We are privileged and grateful to have this fabulous arson investigative team in Colorado and would like to extend a special, warm “thank you” to Sisto, Means and Sadie.
From our very soul, thank you all for an astounding job well done. You will always be remembered.
Bill and Connie Myers