Extended summer-like weather also means extended fire danger and cost to fire departments

Elizabeth Fire asking voters to extend tax
Posted at 4:21 PM, Oct 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-16 19:56:14-04

ELIZABETH, Colo. -- The gorgeous fall weekend Colorado experienced didn't come without a price.

A number of wildfires have kept firefighters busy well past the traditional fire season.

"As we drove closer and closer, I realized [the fire] was literally burning on the hill behind our house," said Parker homeowner Brian Fruhwirth.

Firefighters say the extended danger this year is unprecedented.

“We don't have a fire season anymore,” said T.J. Steck, fire chief with the Elizabeth Fire Protection District. “The fire comes at any time of the year for us."

Because of that, Elizabeth Fire is going to voters in three weeks to ask voters to extend an existing tax for new fire trucks, ambulances and other equipment.

"What we're going to be asking our voters to do is not raise taxes at all, but just allow us to continue [the current tax]," said Steck.

Chief Steck says his crews responded to eight wildland fires last week alone.

"I believe every one of those fires was threatening a home at some point," he said.

Elizabeth is increasingly becoming encroached upon by urban sprawl from metro Denver.

"We're running into what we call an interface situation where homes are being built into these wildland areas, and it's getting much harder to fight the fires," Steck said.

Homeowners like Fruhwirth are just grateful for the firefighting efforts.

"I just want to commend the firefighters,” Fruhwirth said. “They did a fantastic job. The fire came right up to our fence line."

“Days like today, low humidity and high winds, are a nightmare for us,” Steck said. “We’re just cringing anytime we see the wind gusts come up like this.”

Elizabeth’s original 2009 capital improvement tax initiative, aimed at replacing an aging fleet, is sunsetting in 2017.


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