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That's what she said

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Wildfire Update from the City Manager


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Twitter fire map from http://www.cs.colorado.edu/~starbird/boulderfire_map.html

Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam provided the City Council with an update on the status of fire fighting efforts in an email at 12:13 p.m. today (Sept. 8, 2010).  The text of that email follows:

Dear Council Members,

As you know, effective yesterday at approximately 6PM, the Four Mile Canyon fire west of Boulder is now under the command of a federal fire management team. The federal assistance was requested by the County as a result the size of the fire, the weather conditions, and the overall complexity of the situation.  In order to keep the Council informed, the following information is being provided regarding the current status of the fire and a clarification regarding official communications regarding the incident.

Update:

Currently, approximately 200 to 300 firefighters are working the fire with more resources being assembled. There are five large slurry bombers dropping fire retardant ahead of the fire to slow or contain its progress and two large helicopters dropping water directly on the fire.  Based on today’s current weather and fire conditions, the City is not in immediate danger.  The City’s Fire Department has plans in place and ready to implement in the event the western edge of the City becomes at risk.

Residents along the western edge of the city are encouraged under all circumstances to have an evacuation plan in place.  Information regarding such plans can be located at  http://www.bouldercolorado.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2408&Itemid=779.  In addition, the creation of defensible space on properties can make a positive difference in a fire event. Information on creating defensible spaces can be found at http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/natres/06302.html.

Based on reports, the fire has not grown in size.  Challenges of intense fire are being encountered in the Northwest area of the fire zone.  In addition, crews are working in the Sunshine Canyon area to create a line.  The assessment of structural losses continues today and additional information will be posted about losses on the County’s OEM website.

There will be a public information meeting this evening at 7:30PM at the Coor’s Event Center on CU’s Boulder campus.  The Sherriff’s Office, along with representatives of the federal fire management team, will lead that meeting.  The city’s Fire Chief will be on hand to address any questions related to the city’s involvement in the fire fighting measures.

Incident Communication:

As a property owner, I fully appreciate the need for access to information as quickly as possible.  As the City Manager, however, the reality is the appropriate role of Incident Command is to only release information that has been verified by personnel on the ground. While the fire is active, fire suppression takes priority over verification of property losses.  As you can imagine, it is a very delicate balance.

In the time of instant updates by news media on the internet or television, the slow process of verifying information before public release is frustrating.   As private entities, the news media has the capacity and resources to produce information more quickly by interviewing witnesses and victims, and capturing pictures and video without the same rigor of verification.

We suggest that residents and Council members continue to monitor news through the various outlets – including broadcast, news and print media – for more immediate descriptions of live events.  In doing so, viewers and readers should understand all information conveyed through such sources is not always fully verified or accurate.  As such, we also encourage residents and Council to continue monitoring official, verified sources such as the County’s website at www.boulderoem.com.

We will continue to provide updates to Council as warranted.

Thank you for your time and understanding.

Regards,

Jane

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