Storm King remains a tragic memory | PostIndependent.com

Storm King remains a tragic memory

It’s been 12 years but reminders always seem to be present.As the clouds moved in Wednesday, lightning strikes were reported around the county.A single lightning strike 12 years ago resulted in one of the most tragic days in our region.That strike ignited a single tree, then a few days later winds picked up and the rest is history. Fourteen firefighters were killed in the Storm King Fire.With tragedy comes lessons, harsh lessons about the power and destructive nature of fire. The Jolley Mesa Fire that burned two weeks ago near New Castle was a good fire. Good, in that no structures were destroyed and no injuries occurred. A total of 581 acres burned, but a quick look back at Storm King shows what a bad fire is.Storm King will remain a tragic chapter in the history of this region and for wildfire firefighting.Whenever there’s a fire in the region, wildfire firefighting trucks can be seen at the trailhead of the Storm King Trail near Canyon Creek. The path that leads to 14 white crossesDale Shrull 7/5/06 and sisters? Not sure about that crosses. Firefighters always stop to pay tribute to their fallen comrades when they get the chance. It’s that brotherhood that we all rely on when the wildfire season heats up. Whether it’s in our backyard like it was with Storm King or Coal Seam, or somewhere else in the West, the firefighting brotherhood is always there to help.On July 6, 1994, the Storm King Fire claimed the lives of 14 firefighters west of Glenwood Springs.There’s a difficult hiking trail that leads to the site of their deaths. In Two Rivers Park there’s a memorial that pays tribute to them. Both are strong reminders of that day.But really, the reminders come back every summer when wildfires like Jolley Mesa break out, and lightning strikes fill the skies.Today is the day when 14 firefighters died. Much of the vegetation, trees and brush has grown back from that deadly fire leaving few remnants of that tragic day.They are known as the Storm King 14 – let’s not forget them.


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