BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Dozens of fire and rescue agencies rushed to Boulder County last month, trying to save neighborhoods from the Marshall Fire. Crews from West Metro Fire and Rescue joined the fight in Louisville. Firefighters shared their experiences from that tragic day.
“It’s still settling in my head, you know, what we witnessed. We went in really unknowing of what we were going to see that day,” said Mike Worcester, a firefighter and paramedic.
Crews said agencies worked seamlessly together as they battled the most intense fire of their lives.
“We were met with the most challenging fire environment any of us had ever seen. The worst part is what we call triage. There were homes that were already beyond saving. We were able to find that line in the sand and found a place where we could safely engage,” said Captain Brendan Finnegan, Wildland Coordinator at West Metro Fire Rescue.
Help from Mother Nature didn’t arrive until the next day. Her whipping winds made their fight even harder.
Nearly 1,100 homes are gone, but crews said they saved more than they lost.
“My initial thoughts when we pulled in and saw the enormity of the devastation was, ‘Where do we fit in? Where do we even start?’” said Captain Dan Wenger. “We saw a fire spreading from home to home very quickly. We had to be careful about where we set up and where we decided to engage the fire. Once we did, we had to make sure that we were able to get our people out quickly if the fire were to spread as fast as we had seen it already spreading.”
Worcester says they were staffed with an experienced engineer and two very inexperienced firefighters. They learned as quickly as the fire moved from home to home.
“They handled themselves professionally. They did good work. They worked really hard all through the night,” said Worcester. “When we went home, I knew that it would be something that I’d have to check back on them to make sure that they were okay with it in their heads. They had done good work.”