It takes a village — especially during an emergency.
The residents impacted by the Elephant Butte Fire have nothing but praise and gratitude for their neighbors and strangers, the first responders and the businesses who went out of their way to help them during the emergency.
“This is a very special community,” said Terry Schroeder, who lives at Buffalo Park and Syndt roads. “I count my lucky stars every day. I couldn’t believe how kind people were. I couldn’t have (gotten evacuated) without the help of strangers.”
Schroeder is grateful for Butch Lewis from Spero Recovery Center, who knocked on her door to ask if she needed help soon after the pre-evacuation notices went out. Lewis called his neighbor, Darcy LaFleur, in Conifer, who drove 40 minutes to Schroeder’s house to pick up her horses and house them for two days. Then, after Schroeder spent a night with a friend, Bear Creek Cabins offered her a room because it had a cancellation.
Her sentiments are echoed by many.
Heidi Smithson, who lives in Hangen Ranch, had an hour to find a way to evacuate her horse Casey, and without a horse trailer, she needed to get creative. A neighbor offered to take Casey to the Jeffco Fairgrounds, which is the evacuation location for large animals.
Smithson said she was grateful for her neighbor’s help and impressed with the operation at the fairgrounds in which volunteers took care of everything, so she didn’t worry about Casey. She said if her neighbor hadn’t been there, she wouldn’t have known who to call.
The Antenuccis and the Temples, who live on Upper Bear Creek Road near where the fire started, are grateful for firefighters’ response, especially the quick decision to call in additional firefighters from other departments and air support to fight the fire.
Mary Lynn Temple called the incident scary, but her family was comforted by the first responders parked along their property while they hiked into the burn area. She said the fire burned an area about 400 feet from her home.
Firefighters were quick to create fire lines to keep the fire from moving north toward Upper Bear Creek Road, Ted Antenucci said, calling their efforts heroic.
Bobbin Friedlander, who has lived just west of Alderfer/Three Sisters Open Space Park since 1985, said once the evacuation orders were enacted, she waited for her husband to return home from their business down the hill. In the meantime, five first responders stopped in to make sure she was OK, knew about the evacuation orders and planned to evacuate.
“I can’t tell you how impressive the response was,” Friedlander said, noting that in a 90-minute span, someone from the Jeffco Sheriff’s Office, Colorado State Patrol, Evergreen Fire/Rescue, Elk Creek Fire and the Evergreen Park & Recreation District stopped to check on her.
“They were checking on my well-being,” she said. “It was truly impressive.”
Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at email@example.com or 303-350-1041.