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Concerns over response, lack of action

Marion WellsGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

If you had a neighbor with water, equipment and trained operators capable of extinguishing a 1-acre fire they reported then went back to work, would it be unreasonable to question their lack of action? All worry about “liability” and fighting fire without training. Why delay, allowing a 1-acre fire along a county road to destroy 260 acres and threaten homes? How is it these same “untrained, liable” water truck and dozer operators on the adjacent pad were trained safely enough to be used 1 1/2 hours into the fire, dozing fireline and watering down 100+ feet … exactly what would’ve kept the fire to 1 acre at the start?The September 10 Glenwood Springs Post Independent article “Agencies defend gas companies” by Dennis Webb requires a response. Kevin Whelan of Rifle Fire said I’m being unreasonable. Webb adds to my concern by stating facts incorrectly. It’s disturbing accusations were leveled at me without an interview. Why did public agencies defend industry, ignoring their constituency?I detailed concerns at two EAB meetings; a Williams/Whelan/Blair meeting; an onsite meeting with Whelan/Blair; and two fire district meetings. It was our intent to affect future change not rehash the past, but to comply with Whelan’s public request, here are the concerns.This whole issue was raised when agencies’ statements regarding the 301 Road Fire were contrary to the actual events observed by myself and neighbors. I contacted several agencies without response, going to EAB, a forum for landowner concerns.We met with Williams Production, Whelan and Blair August 9. Issues were: ongoing dispatch problems like home locations, who responds and misinformation; firefighters taking time setting hoses, unaware no power equals no well water; landowner water refused by Whelan himself; no response to information refuting lightning cause; qualified volunteers denied by district policies; failure to allow/use available resources extinguishing fire at the earliest stage; and firefighting delays. We noted industry’s close proximity to recent fires, asking for fire protection plan improvements involving them. They said they’d investigate. Blair’s started. We’re still waiting on Williams and Whelan.It’s disturbing no firefighting activity started until an hour after the fire was reported. An unverified, false report of missing children stopped everything. Two fire brush truck sat beside the road “waiting for command” weren’t searching. Putting out the one acre at the start with equipment on hand, extinguishing or at least slowing the five acres and keeping it on the west side of the road when the brush trucks arrived with water trucks and dozers available onsite, would’ve protected life and property with far less risk (and cost) to children, firefighters and residents! Common sense appears lacking in firefighting protocols.I met again with Whelan and Blair on August 13at the fire site. We reviewed my observations, supported by neighbors, how lightning was not the cause. It started next to 301 Road (lots of traffic), Williams’ pad and the subcontractor’s parking area. On-ground evidence did not fit with their contentions or conclusions. I reiterated to both men the purpose was correcting for the future, not blaming actions in the past. When I attended the September Rifle Fire meeting, I detailed the same concerns, expressing my disappointment that Whelan apparently provided no information about his progress on his promises. They asked I detail concerns in writing. They had access to the EAB information, their meeting minutes, and substantial time was already spent with their employee, fully apprising Whelan who promised action. I want responses.Comments at September EAB dealt with discounting landowner’s experience/concerns, and lacking accountability across the board. Hiding behind liability issues, trying to shift responsibilities to others, and avoiding problems that can be addressed aren’t behaviors indicative of good neighbors. I’ll keep at it until misinformation’s corrected, promises are kept and problems corrected.


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