Posted 10:41 PM 9/2/2012 : Retired fire chief calls for fire ban
A retired Colorado Springs fire chief is calling for a fire ban after finding unattended camp fires on Cheyenne Mountain. He's worried people haven't learned their lesson from the Waldo Canyon fire. A working fire boss says the ex-chief has every reason to be concerned; the current conditions are ripe for a repeat of history.
It's a major threat to businesses. Hugh Trabandt, the retired Broadmoor Fire Department Chief, now runs a The Stables at the Broadmoor on Cheyenne Mountain. He lost $30,000 in cancellations during the Waldo Canyon fire, and he says he could lose a lot more money if a new fire burns his business to the ground.
Walking through a camp site near his business, Trabandt told News 5, "About four or five days ago my son and I were riding and we noticed that there were not one, but two unattended camp fires. It burned right here."
Pointing to a burned log left blazing inches away from a parched creek bed and a bone-try forest, he says of the early-colored fall foliage, "I've lived here for sixty years and I can tell you that this is unusual. It's just a tinderbox that's waiting for the right conditions to happen to imitate the Waldo fire."
Trabandt fought fires with the Broadmoor Fire Department for forty years. He served as Chief for twenty-six. With the extreme conditions, he's now calling for a fire ban. "I have tried and the local fire lady is very cooperative but her hands are tied as well, this is a hierarchy. Go up the ladder 'til you get to the top and in my opinion the top has not responded. I'd like to think that there was some lessons learned."
With his cries going unanswered, he's now calling on elected officials. Reading a letter in response to one of his emails, he says, "I share your concern I would be asking the same question myself: why is there no fire ban? This is State Representative Pete Lee." Despite his efforts, there's still no fire ban in place.
Fred Monroe, the sitting Assistant Chief to the Broadmoor Fire Department fought the Waldo Canyon fire. He says Trabandt is right to call for preventative measures. In an interview Sunday he told News 5, "It was like a warzone. Fires at this point scare us because the fuels are still there, the weather patterns are there. It's something that will happen again. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when."
The stables Trabandt runs in his retirement are just one of his concerns. "Our business is to sell scenery. This is a very popular place for folks to come and enjoy the beauty and if it's gone it's irreplaceable. It takes a hundred years to grow a scrawny little pine tree," he says.
News 5's calls to the U.S. Forest service for their side of the story went unreturned; answers to why there is no ban in place are expected after the holiday weekend.