15 Grand Valley agencies plan for wildfire-related emergencies

Fifteen agencies from around the Grand Valley met Thursday night to begin support and coordination efforts with firefighters and each other in response to the growing Pine Ridge Fire.

Shortly after an evacuation was ordered for a portion of De Beque, officials stood up an emergency operations center at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department to coordinate infrastructure protection, emergency shelters and health advisories, as well as to offer whatever support is needed to the incident command post, which manages the firefight.

The goal of the center is to be a step ahead of the fire, county Emergency Manager Andy Martsolf said. “Our job is to plan for the worst-case scenario,” Martsolf said. “We’re here to support the incident managers, to coordinate resources and to plan for future threats.”

The center consists of representatives from the Lower Valley Fire Protection District, Grand Junction Fire Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, Mesa County departments of Health and Human Services, Mesa County administration, Geographic Information Systems, Emergency Management, Search and Rescue, Fleet Management, Emergency Medical Services, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, Delta County Emergency Management, the Grand Junction Regional Communications Center and Xcel Energy.

“All these people ... are able to come together and work for the benefit of the community, to offer support to the incident and ensure the safety of the community,” Martsolf said.

According to Martsolf, the center will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week “at least as long as we have an evacuation order, a shelter and concerns about infrastructure.”

“We’re making sure we’re prepared for tomorrow and for the long haul,” county spokeswoman Jessica Peterson said.


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