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Fire on the Ranch: A Ranch Broker’s Experience

This post is written by Woody Beardsley, Ranch Broker for Mirr Ranch Group.

image1In the day-to-day “quiet enjoyment” that is the great privilege of the rural landowner, it is easy to forget that fire is an integral part of the landscape and can happen at a moment’s notice.  When it happens, it happens fast and our family had a sobering reminder of this earlier this month on our hay ranch in Summit County, Colorado.  We were immensely lucky how things turned out and encourage all landowners to think about the risks of fire and ways to mitigate it before it happens.

On Friday, October 2, at 1:00 in the afternoon, a wildfire broke out on the Arapahoe National Forest, above our family’s ranch 16 miles north of Silverthorne, CO on Brush Creek in the Lower Blue River Valley. The cause of what soon came to be called the Brush Creek Fire appears to be lightning. Within an hour of first sighting the smoke, our ranch road was quickly occupied with a remarkable variety of people, vehicles and equipment. Hearing the call and seeing the smoke, our fantastic neighbors, several of whom we barely know and some we have never met, arrived with trucks and trailers to assist with the evacuation of livestock and property, offering to help clear structures and relocate equipment. The two neighboring ranch managers provided much needed assistance and temporary shelter for animals as well as granting access to land and water for emergency personnel and fire fighting efforts.

image2As flames breached our property boundary atop Cemetery Ridge, and began creeping down the hillside toward our meadows, wave upon wave of emergency personnel and trained federal, state, and local fire fighting agencies continued to arrive from near and far. By Saturday morning, when the fire had reached our western most hay meadows, a total of 21 different agencies had responded, including: the Summit County Sherriff’s Department; fire crews from Lake Dillon, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain; U. S. Forest Service hand crews from as far as Buena Vista, Steamboat and the Metro Area; the Alpine Hotshot crew form Estes Park; and two helicopter units from Rifle and Grand Junction. Their combined efforts and determination was astounding and by Saturday night the fire was nearly fully contained.

image3We count ourselves lucky that it was late in the year (we weren’t fighting the high heat of summer). And we count ourselves lucky that it’s been one of the wettest years on record (the forest is not tinder dry). But most of all we count ourselves lucky to be surrounded by such a remarkable community of people. We cannot begin to express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for all the men and women of the many local, state and federal agencies that came to our aid. The Brush Creek Fire started on public ground but the efforts to contain it and assure our safety could not have felt more personal. We have always considered it a tremendous privilege to live, work and play in Summit County and after the events of last weekend, we feel doubly so.

To the very fine men and women who risked life and limb to contain the fire, we offer a humbled and profoundly grateful “Thank you.” To our many friends and very fine neighbors who showed up promptly and ready to help, offering spare beds, hot meals and the comfort of friendship, we can only hope that somehow, someday we can repay the kindness.  We just couldn’t be luckier.

Thank you Summit County.

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