In 2011 we suffered the Crystal Fire. This fire, which was man caused, started on Crystal Mountain south west of the Buckhorn. Initially contained to about 20 acres, the Crystal fire was fanned by a sudden nighttime windstorm with winds reaching 70mph or more. The fire grew to over 3000 acres in a matter of minutes and destroyed several homes. Because the wind struck very late at night, it was a critical and life threatening situation. The Crystal fire was the first major fire in the RCVFD area in 30 plus years.
On June 9, 2012, a lightning-sparked fire in the Buckhorn became the wind driven inferno known as the High Park fire. High Park burned over 89,000 acres and destroyed some 254 homes and countless other buildings and took 1 life. The area was evacuated for nearly 21 days. Two years later, RCVFD and our community is recovering – showing a determination and effort that is truly amazing.
September 2013 floods In 2013 the front range of Colorado had an extended upslope storm that dumped 14.6 inches of rain at RCVFD station 1. This storm caused a 500-1000 year flood event that destroyed roads and properties up and down the Colorado front range. Because of High Park, and the expected flooding that comes after a wildland fire, RCVFD and our residents weathered the flood better than most. We had been preparing for flooding from the High Park burn for a year. Still, of the 3 roads in the RCVFD area, only Rist Canyon Road survived and it was damaged. Since then, Rist Canyon, Stove Prairie and the upper Buckhorn roads have been repaired (though the upper Buckhorn is a temporary repair). The lower Buckhorn remains closed. That road will be rebuilt during 2014.
hrough all these events, the men and women of RCVFD and the community we live in rallied and responded. The High Park fire response is a model of response and interagency cooperation. The years of planning and training at RCVFD, and work in our community, paid off during High Park. While it was an event without parallel, it was a model of human resources. After High Park, RCVFD Chief Robert Gann was awarded the first ever Wildland Safety Exemplary Service Award by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) at the 2013 Backyards and Beyond conference.