BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Last Thursday morning, Jack Pommer, a Boulder resident who served in the Colorado legislature, headed to the Costco store in Superior to buy some groceries and get gas when he noticed a small grass fire developing on a spit of land near the intersection of Highway 93 and Marshall Road.
“So I stopped and took pictures of it,” said Pommer.
It now appears Pommer’s cellphone video is some of the earliest of the Marshall Fire starting before it became a massive blaze that swallowed up entire subdivisions.
“I thought it was a little grass fire,” said Pommer. “It didn’t seem like a danger at all.”
Although Pommer said the wind was “fierce,” he was able to get to within about 100 feet of the flames.
“The thing I keep thinking about,” he said, “is how insignificant the fire seemed at the beginning.”
His video showed a shed on the property eventually being enveloped by flames. His first images were at 11:23 a.m. The property belongs to a religious group called 12 Tribes. A representative of the group declined to discuss the fire and its origin with CBS4.
Pommer said he noticed one fire truck on scene and a second pickup truck that appeared to be monitoring traffic in the area.
“I think if there had been two, four, five trucks they could have doused the whole area,” said Pommer.
Without those kinds of resources , and with high winds and dry conditions, he concluded what happened next was “inevitable.”
When he drove to a nearby Costco and filled up on gas, he was engulfed by a storm of smoke and burning embers.
“I could feel the heat and the embers burning,” he said.
Shrubs nearby caught fire and Pommer realized the small grass fire he had captured just a few minutes earlier had now blown up.
He said he has spent a lot of time thinking about what he saw and recorded and wonders if Colorado needs to start treating even the smallest of fires as potentially life-threatening and react with a major response in the early stages.
“It was just a little grass fire,” said Pommer. “It didn’t seem like a danger at all.”