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Aren’t we lucky to have the Stevens Field Airport right here in Archuleta County?
Some in our community may not agree with that statement, but if we did not have an airport of this size, the nearest staging facility for the firefighters, trucks and aircraft would be either in Alamosa or Durango. Stevens Field is not only the closest airport to the various fires that broke out in the East Fork area, but it was able to provide the firefighters with all they needed to rest, eat, bathe and recuperate from their very strenuous efforts.
The aircraft refueled on a continuous basis in order to make constant round trips to douse the fires with water and fire retardants. If these aircraft and fire trucks had to come from Alamosa or Durango, they would have had a longer period of flight and driving time to and from the fires and would have used up much more fuel. If you think gasoline for your car is expensive, you should check out Avgas prices. The efforts of the firefighters and the supporting aircraft saved South Fork and the Wolf Creek Ski Area, for which we should all be thankful. The hours saved in flight and driving time may have been a contributing factor to their success toward containment.
The East Fork and other fires that popped up on the east side of the mountain from our town are not the last fires we will see nearby. We are surrounded with forests that have been killed and turned into kindling from the years of drought and beetle infestation. There will be more fires and maybe the next one(s) will be a threat to our homes in the county or town. Stevens Field would again provide the staging area to combat any and all future fires that could get out of hand due to weather conditions as they did in the East Fork Fires.
In closing, I want to say how thankful I am for the expertise and hard work of the firefighters. Thank God they all stayed unharmed.