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Firefighters Who Died In Storm King Fire Remembered 20 Years Later

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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A memorial was held Sunday to remember those killed in the Storm King Mountain Fire 20 years ago.

On July 7, 1994, strong winds blew a wildland fire back on dozens of firefighters. Fourteen died on Storm King Mountain just west of Glenwood Springs.

It was a tough Sunday for firefighters and families of those lost. But one man who lost his brother says this weekend has helped in the healing process, even two decades after their tragic loss.

At the base of Storm King Mountain’s western edge sits a small neighborhood that was spared by the fire.

“There isn’t enough that can be said for the appreciation for these guys and women that lost their lives here,” Garfield County resident Lynette Cerise said.

Cerise made signs to commemorate each person who passed away.

“A sincere ‘thank you,’ “ she said. “I wanted to put this up at least so the family could see that we have not forgotten.”

At the end of the neighborhood is a commemorative trail for the Storm King.

“To see it first hand, and see what they were battling, it was difficult,” Ryan Newberry with Basalt Fire Rescue said.

About 200 people summited the extremely difficult trail on Sunday, like smoke jumper Roger Roth’s brother Jim and his 81-year-old father.

“We always remember, we remember the people that died together on that mountain, whether they were smoke jumpers or Pineville hot shots or heli-tack people, they all died, and we’re here to make things better,” Jim Roth said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The 14 deaths were blamed on a number of factors, including poor management, weather and conditions. Since then government practices have changed.

“The whole fire safety, firefighter safety initiative, really took off at that point. It was really a passion of mine. I didn’t want other firefighters to experience what I had experienced,” said Michelle Ryerson, National Fire Safety Program Manager.
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After his brother died in the fire, Jim Roth started creating better fire equipment.

“You have to realize this group of 14 families is really like a club. But it’s a club that nobody wants to belong to, but we try and help each other,” Roth said.

All over Glenwood Springs there are purple ribbons — a sign of support for the Storm King 14.

“We were told 20 years ago that this community wouldn’t forget, and it’s clear from this weekend — memorials and events — that this community has not forgotten,” Roth said.

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