It’s been anything but a slow time for the Norwood Fire Department. Norwood’s wildland fire captain Mark Garcia and contract firefighter Kyle Koenig no sooner got back from a two-week tour of duty on the Pine Gulch Fire outside of the Grand Junction area, the biggest wildfire in Colorado history, when Garcia left Norwood again.
He traveled to Buffalo, New York, to pick up Norwood Fire Protection District’s brand new truck, a Dodge 2500 chase vehicle, funded by grant monies. The vehicle made it back to Wright’s Mesa, and had its Norwood Fire Department decals applied just in time to get baptized by fire last Wednesday evening, when volunteers quickly helped dispatch a lightning strike flare-up on Deer Mesa.
On Thursday, Garcia was back on the road with that new wildland support vehicle, Norwood’s Engine No. 7 brush truck and two contract firefighters to head to another fire, the East Fork Fire in southeastern Colorado, near Trinidad.
Representatives from the district said the East Fork Fire assignment was part of a state Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) Task Force, and serves as a supporting example of Norwood’s five-year plan to develop the district into a regional wildland fire support and strategic command center.
With lightning strikes also occurring in the local area that same day, the Norwood Fire Department was called out on a remote wildland smoke report. Representatives said typically 911 calls of that type don’t usually lead to the discovery of an actual wildland fire. Sometimes, the incident involves dust, or nothing it all. Still, Thursday’s call to fire outside of Norwood was indeed real.
After smoldering for about one day, some low brush ignited in the Gurley Lake subdivision, northeast of the lake on private land. The fire quickly spread to scrub oak, juniper and a few ponderosa pine trees before U.S. Forest Service Captain Mike Shultz first arrived and began to attack it.
Two Norwood engines joined the U.S. Forest Service crew, and a total of nine firefighters extinguished the spreading flames, holding them to about 200 by 100 feet.
By 4:25 p.m., the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office announced on social media the fire was out and crews had departed.
Representatives from Norwood Fire said with the level of work being done during this time, there continues to be a real and growing need for mission-critical public safety infrastructure and establishing Norwood as a regional command center.
“The Norwood Fire Protection District is honored to be assigned to the DFPC Task Force, and our crew will be deployed throughout the wildland season,” Norwood Fire Chief John Bockrath said. “The local Forest Service and BLM crews have been great partners and resources to the Norwood Fire Protection District.”