Adams: Fire safety includes drivers

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

Weekend fires throughout Quay County are becoming almost commonplace, and County Fire Marshal Donald Adams is concerned residents aren’t treating them as dangerous situations.

Adams reported during Monday’s regular County Commission meeting that the county fire crews have performed well with the large number of fires throughout the year, including eight of various sizes that happened because of lightning over the weekend.

Four fires — the Lloyd fire, the Gordon fire, and fires north of Logan and Nara Visa — burned a combined 3,000 acres from Adams’ estimates. Adams said the Lloyd fire destroyed 750 acres and a home that had been long abandoned.

Adams credited county firefighters for keeping fire damage to a minimum.

“Now 750 acres is a lot, don’t get me wrong,” Adams said. “But it’s better than 10,000 or 20,000. We’ve got dedicated people who are getting on these fires.”

The problem the firefighters are facing more with each fire, Adams said, is the occasional motorist that will stop to look at the fire. In some cases, the drivers are impeding the fire department. Over the weekend, Adams said, a small accident did damage to the camper of a vehicle that had stopped.

“It’s people who should know better that are looking around,” Adams said, “sometimes in the fire’s main area.”

Commissioners agreed such situations hampered the department’s ability to fight fires, and Commissioner Bill Curry said if drivers continued to do so, officials would probably have to make an example out of a violator.

The commissioners also used the meeting as the first of three public hearings for abandonment of the Montoya subdivision along Interstate 40. One of the main owners of the land wants to change the status of the vacant land to pasture land, lowering the property taxes.

There are 10 different landowners in the subdivision. The Commission has no obligation to notify the landowners other than running announcements with local media outlets, but opted to send letters to the landowners should they have a difference in opinion.

“We need to do it as a group,” Curry said, “and if there’s an objection, that’s what public hearings are for.”

If the status of the land is changed, it would take effect for property owners in 2007.

In other business:

• County Manager Terry Turner presented a pair of articles he downloaded off of the Internet dealing with Ute Lake Ranch, a planned community of luxury homes along Ute Lake.

One story was from the Denver Post’s business section, reporting on the project and efforts to sell homes as second homes to people in Denver.

The other was a golf column in Sports Illustrated, referencing the unnamed golf course planned for the ranch. In the column, readers were encouarged to visit and participate in a course-naming contest. The person who submitted the chosen name would receive a membership.

Turner said the articles were encouraging because he has the perception there are many “non-believers” about Ute Lake Ranch. Turner said work is expected to begin in May on homes developers would use as models for customers.

• Commissioners approved several resolutions to make budget adjustments for county fire departments. Turner said departments are adjusting budgets to pay for increased fuel usage, and that similar resolutions would probably happen every meeting as long as the fires continue.