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Rocky Mountain Coordination Center: 'Explosive Atmosphere' Near National Forest Land

Aired June 14, 2000 - 2:25 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Two major forest fires in Colorado continue to grow by leaps and bounds right now. The high meadow blaze south of Denver has scorched some 4500 acres since yesterday and now is advancing on national forest land. The Bobcat fire, north of Denver, has doubled in size since yesterday to almost 5,000 acres. It now threatens Fort Collins, Masonville and Drake.

Let's get the latest now on the fires. We are joined on the line by Dave Steinky from the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center in Golden, Colorado.

How rough a time are you having out there?

DAVE STEINKY, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, ROCKY MTN. COORDINATION CTR.: Well, it is tough right now. We're involved in two major fires, one south of Denver and one north of Denver.

WATERS: There seems to be more domiciles threatened in this fire than we reported last month in the New Mexico fires.

STEINKY: Absolutely. These are in that tight forest/urban interface. And that's where the forest comes in and meets all these ranchettes and cabins and housing units that are very close to national forests, and it's an explosive atmosphere out here.

WATERS: Are those folks being responsible building where they are building?

STEINKY: Well, that's up to them to where they want to build. We don't have any control over private property. They need to be more firewise and protect their property from wildfire.

WATERS: What's the situation now, Dave? Is weather a major factor? Do you have to let some of this just go?

STEINKY: No, we certainly don't have to let it go. But it sure makes firefighting tough when we have these high winds, very low relative humidities, and high temperatures. Those are the three tough things about fighting fire here. And then we throw in the fact that that's where the wild land meets these structures, it's just tough to get in there and put people in a really tough situation.

WATERS: We understand some homes have been burned up, but no one has been seriously injured. I did read, I think, earlier this morning, some firefighters had been burned. Are they all right?

STEINKY: They are fine. It was smoke inhalation when a fire advanced on their engine and overran their engine, they're just fine right now.

WATERS: So I would gather, by what you just said, that this is an unpredictable situation?

STEINKY: It really is. We are tinder dry. We have high winds that gusts up to 40 miles an hour, real squirrelly winds. And it is just a real dangerous situation out here right now for firefighters, as well as the public who are involved in this interface.

WATERS: Well, good luck with it. Thanks for taking time to talk with us, Dave Steinky. He is from the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center in Golden, Colorado. We will be keeping track of that.

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