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State Race Interviews

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Questions to the Senate Disctrict 35 candidates:

  1. What will be your first specific priority as a state senator, if elected?
  2. What are examples of the kinds of policy you would sponsor to benefit small business in Southern Colorado?  
  3. What are the steps necessary to enhance, continue, and maintain the sustainability of family farming and ranching in Southern Colorado?
  4. Colorado is falling behind as a state in education and the school districts in your region have consistently failing schools. What is the path for improving education, and how if elected would you make real lasting change?
  5. In your opinion what are Southern Colorado’s most critical infrastructure needs?
  6. Do you support “deferred action for childhood arrivals” and “standard-rate” tuition for eligible Colorado residents? Explain why or why not.
  7. In light of the tragic shootings at Aurora and Columbine, under what circumstances should citizens be prohibited from carrying guns?
  8. What are your top three water priorities in Southern Colorado that need to be addressed, if you were elected?
  9. Do you think that a woman’s right to choose is her inalienable right?

 

Answers: Martinez 

1. My first  priority is to ensure that Southern Colorado has a strong, independent Senator who will work to preserve our rural communities, values, traditions and lifestyle.

2. Access to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet will provide small business the opportunity to compete effectively in a global economy.  I will support the improvement of our transportation systems so rural areas can more easily move goods to market.

3. Senate District 35 has an agriculture economy.  By expanding markets, protecting our water and making it easier for farmers and ranchers to do business, we can continue  the agricultural heritage that has sustained so many Southern Colorado families for more than a century.

We must fight to keep every drop of water that is in rural Colorado in rural Colorado!  Our state and our nation depend on the success of family farming and ranching, which is one of the largest contributors to our Colorado economy.  I will fight to ensure that our future generations will be able to continue farming and ranching and living the traditions of their families.

4. Regardless of what corner of Colorado our children live, they must have access to a world class 21st century education.  Funding ratios need to reflect the additional costs of educating children in rural areas.  Rural children must be given the same educational opportunities that urban students receive. Our future depends on the education of our next generation — when our children succeed we all succeed.

 

5. So often, rural communities are not prioritized for infrastructure improvement projects.  We must stand in line after the metro areas and hope that our rural roads, bridges, facilities, telecommunications, etc are funded.  Although our population isn’t as large as the metro area, our needs are just as important and deserve to be funded.  Infrastructure improvements aren’t just physical improvements, they are about public safety, emergency preparedness, education, healthcare, tourism, economy, job growth and every other component of a thriving community.

6. I support comprehensive immigration reform.

The President’s Executive Order is now underway that defers for two years the deportation for those arrived here as children, and who through no fault of their own do not have citizenship.  As part of this program, these kids must pursue a path that will make their immigration status legal.  I believe that we should give this program time to work and then evaluate its effectiveness.

7. There should be no additional controls on the purchase or ownership of firearms.

8. The most important priority is to honor Colorado’s prior appropriation doctrine.  The second priority is conservation.  We must learn to value this precious resource and use it wisely.  My third priority is the continued development of water storage facilities.

9. I believe that the difficult decision to end a pregnancy should be up to a woman, her family and her doctor.

 

Answers: Crowder

 

1. I would say the economy.  With between 8, 14, 19 percent unemployment, we need to find ways to get people back to work.  I’ll tell you right off the bat I am not interested in raising taxes on people who cannot afford them to start with, we need to get people back to work.  I think we have some regulations that we need to roll back.  For example, there is a lady in the district who opened up a clothing store, and through not only the federal but the state and county, the regulations before she could open the door was 7000 dollars.  Today she’s stuck in her store working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week by herself until she accumulates enough capital to hire somebody.  So it’s not only federal and state regulations, there is also the county and city.  But you need to realize that there are other entities out there that need to be, and I am not saying that I would force them or mandate them to lessen, but I think we get to the point now that the entire government structure is under recovery.

2. What we need to do is lessen the cost of starting a business.  I started my first business with a telephone and an idea, and you can’t do that anymore.  So by the time you get to the state and local and federal, you need to get a lawyer to find out what you have done.  We need to streamline the process.

3. I am a rancher myself.  To sustain that we need to is get the youth involved in agriculture.  Some of the conglomerate farmers are not interested in handing their farms down to their children, some have no children.  So what we have to do is get the youth involved and do it in such a way that we are promoting the farming lifestyle… I am not sure that education itself is directly involved in it… A lot of the farms are handed down to the children, which is great, but as farms and ranches continue to grow, the youth tend to want to move to the city, argucilture shrinks and ownerships shrinks.

4. What we need to is instill a drive into the students.  It’s really easy to put the blame on the educators or the education system.  But the reality is that it is all of us.  It is the students, it’s the parents, and it’s the teachers.  I am not sure that there is one thing you can do that I could think of that is specific.  You can say test scores.  Well test, well at some point it is somewhat misleading to say, because there is so much more to it than just test scores.  If you think back to your education, everybody has a favorite teacher, and once you have that favorite teacher, you excel.  So, I think that the biggest factor in education is a lack of role models.  I think we need to instill pride and they [students] will want to excel.  Until we get to that point, I am not sure that there is any one thing.  You know we try to fund them and finance them the best we can, but beyond that I am not sure that there is a way to.

5. I am all in favor of having an index for transportation.  But I think it needs to be equitable.  I think Southern Colorado needs their share.  I do not think all of the road building needs to be in Aspen or Vail.  Right now Highway 287, which runs north and south out of Springfield, is in good shape.  Highway 50 is in decent shape, but Highway 160 from Trinidad to Springfield is in terrible shape.  I mean there is not a lot of population out there but we still need the roads for our economy.  You have to realize not all of our goods are shipped by rail so therefore our highways are critical; they are directly connected to our education system, our economy, our daily lives.

6. I would like to talk to you about the tuition rate.  I was basically opposed to a different rate for tuition.  And, what we are talking about is kids who went through our education system and they basically were being charged out of state tuition.  Well the thing about it, see I am also a veteran service officer and I know there is an alternative.  The problem with the tuition as we know it is that the student who went through the system does not have basic funding avenues for him when he gets to college.  He can go through four years of college and get a degree, but still he’s illegal.  So since I have worked with the veterans and see that they have that path to citizenship, and also the ability to receive financial aid.  So the individual does three or four years [in the military] and when they got out they had what they call their military discharge, then that was their path to citizenship.  And they are also helped with their tuition, financially.  And in my opinion, that is a far better way to go, not so much for the tax payer, but for that individual.  And I am not trying to promote people going into the military, but it is an option we should look at… And what we are looking at is about 500 young graduates, not thousands.

7. Well I have to go back to, I am a veteran service officer, and in the VA system, if you are deemed incompetent you cannot own a firearm or if you are a felon.  And those are the only situations [a person should be prohibited from carrying a firearm].  The Aurora shooting was a cowardly act but you have to realize he [the shooter] had contact with a psychiatrist who should have alerted somebody, that should have been enough to thwart any kind of issue.  But the guy sat on it, so I do not believe that other than those circumstances you should be not allowed to carry a gun.  If we did not, you know the reality is if we did not have a government that is considered tyrannical we would not have this issue.  I do not believe that one person’s actions should affect the entire nation.

8. I am supportive of the super-ditch, but as far as priorities, there has been talk of expanding reservoir capacity, which is a great idea, but the thing about it is the extra billions went down to john martin, I was down there and it looks to me like he was 35 to 40 feet down. Exactly what that means, I do not know, I don’t know if it’s half or what but it’s 35 feet down. Pueblo reservoir has lost a lot, too. The estimation now is that they have two years of water supply in Pueblo reservoir. So, if some things don’t, the Arkansas Valley is…  So we can have the vision of future storage, but that is decades away

9. To be honest with you, I have been able to think about this and what I believe is I will side with your mother.  Inalienable right to me is god given right.  Everything we do should have dignity and abortion is a serious issue.  But whatever we do should have some pride in it, should have some dignity.  I am pro-life.  But I don’t see abortion going away.  So I urge people to be responsible in their actions that way we would not have this discussion.  But I am not going to condemn anyone.

 

Questions for the Colorado House District 47 Candidates:

1.   What will be your first specific priority as a state representative, if elected?

2.   What are examples of the kinds of policy you would sponsor to benefit small business in Southern Colorado?

3.   What are the steps necessary to enhance, continue, and maintain the sustainability of family farming and ranching in Southern Colorado?

4. Colorado is falling behind as a state in education and the school districts in your region have

consistently failing schools. What is the path for improving education, and how if elected, would

you make real lasting change?

5. In your opinion what are Southern Colorado’s most critical infrastructure needs?

6. Do you support “deferred action for childhood arrivals” and “standard-rate” tuition for eligible Colorado residents? Explain why or why not.

7. In light of the tragic shootings at Aurora and Columbine, under what circumstances should

citizens be prohibited from carrying guns?

8. What are your top three water priorities in Southern Colorado that need to be addressed, if you were elected?

9. Do you think that a woman’s right to choose is her inalienable right?

Answers: Rodosevich

1. My first priority will be to strengthen our region’s economy. I will work to get our fair share of funding for infrastructure projects and support the pillars of our economy: small businesses, healthcare workers, agriculture, and the renewable energy industry. I will also fight for the HIRE Colorado Plan, which gives Colorado companies the first crack at state contracts. This program will create Southern Colorado jobs while investing in transportation and water infrastructure, putting our tax dollars to work on projects that will benefit our region.

2. As State Representative, I will sponsor legislation to give tax breaks to small businesses that are starting up or trying to expand. This would not only ease the burden on these local companies while they get their feet on the ground, but it would also encourage entrepreneurs to invest in their ideas and get started. Small businesses are the backbone of our region, and these policies will help strengthen our economy and create jobs right here in Southern Colorado.

3. As a rancher myself, I know that the most pressing issue for farmers and ranchers in Southern Colorado right now is water. This summer’s drought really highlighted the importance of improving water storage systems in our region, to ensure that we can sustain our agriculture during dry seasons. We need to fight to protect our water and invest in solutions to manage it more effectively.

4. Colorado is 47th in the nation in terms of funding for education, which shows that we desperately need to rearrange our priorities. We should be investing in our children’s futures by putting funding directly in the classrooms, decreasing class sizes and focusing on early childhood education programs to give kids a strong foundation at a young age. I will fight for our fair share of education funding, so that local schools are receiving the same amount as schools in the Denver metro area and have access to the same technology that our kids will need to succeed in their careers.

5.Southern Colorado needs major infrastructure improvements in the areas of transportation and water. As I discussed in a previous question, we desperately need to improve water storage systems to help sustain our agriculture during dry seasons. Also, an improved transportation system in Southern Colorado will allow local businesses (especially in agriculture) to expand their reach, and will generally stimulate our regional economy. These infrastructure improvements are critical to our region’s success, and I will fight to make them a top priority at the legislature.

6. I believe that all Colorado kids deserve a fair shot at the American Dream. When students work hard to achieve in their studies, they should have the opportunity to pursue higher education and gain the tools to succeed in their chosen career. Immigration is largely a federal issue, but we should be supporting children’s education regardless of their parents’ actions so that Colorado kids can grow up to be successful contributors to our society and economy.

7. I am a fourth generation Colorado rancher, and hunting with my kids is a family tradition. I support our 2nd Amendment rights, and as State Representative I will protect gun ownership as part of our Southern Colorado heritage.

8. First, we should invest in water storage systems in our region to ensure access during droughts. We also need to improve water quality in rural areas; for example, some small towns in Otero County don’t have drinkable tap water. Many of these projects have been backlogged in the legislature, and I will make it a priority to get them funded and in action. Last but not least, I will fight to protect our region’s water and make sure that it doesn’t get sent to Colorado Springs and Denver. Our water should stay here, supporting our agriculture and our way of life.

9. I believe that women deserve the right to make private medical decisions with their doctor, without government getting in the way. I am a supporter of individual rights, including gun ownership and private property rights, and I feel that this is another area where the government should not interfere.

Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff did not respond to PULP’s questions. 

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Almost ‘All Aboard’ – Passenger train service may return to Front Range within the next 12 years

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Three Southern Colorado historic passenger train stations – in Walsenburg, Pueblo and Colorado Springs – have not been used for their intended purpose in decades, and it could take at least another decade or longer, if at all, before another passenger boards a train at any of them.

Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace, who is also chairman of the state’s Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, says his commission has received the $8.7 million in funding it had requested last December from the state General Assembly as part of Senate Bill 1, a transportation bill, on May 9 – the last day of the 2018 legislative session. Pace says the funding will be used by his commission to start the first phase of a five-phase plan to bring south-north passenger rail service between Trinidad and Fort Collins in the next 10 to 12 years.

Pace says although he hopes that the existing historic train depots along the route (in Walsenburg, Pueblo and Colorado Springs) are used for the project, the other members of the passenger rail commission, and a study to be done in regard to station locations – among other things – as part of the first phase, might suggest otherwise. The first phase should be completed about 2½ years from now.

Pace explains that the existing three train stations, two of which were built well over a century ago, were located in downtown areas and were designed to accommodate pedestrians. He says the train stops for the Front Range Passenger Rail have to account for the fact the many of the potential passengers will get to the station by car. He adds things like track alignment and rights of way are among the variables that will determine whether the historic passenger train depots are used.

In addition to determining train station locations, the first phase of the Front Range Passenger Rail project includes defining mobility needs, preferred alignment and routes, service operating characteristics, including time of service, speeds, and rail spacing. Phase I also will include public and stakeholder hearings.

A governing authority will be formed during the second phase to be implemented by November 2020. That phase is expected to cost $500,000. Phase III includes full environmental clearance from the federal government, which is expected to cost between $150 million to $300 million. Construction will start as part of the fourth stage with a cost to be determined. Phase V includes ribbon cutting and a grand opening to commence ridership.

Walsenburg

The city of Walsenburg owns the town’s former passenger train depot located in the city’s downtown between Main and Russell streets. Walsenburg City Clerk Wanda Britt says, in its heyday, 11 passenger trains passed through the depot daily. Sometime after passenger train service stopped, the depot had been home to the now defunct Huerfano County Chamber of Commerce. Then, Britt says, the building was refurbished by the city, keeping the depot’s old façade, and the city now rents it out to Huerfano County government as office space and a tourist center.

Walsenburg town historian Carolyn Newman says the depot was built  in 1926 by two competing passenger railroad companies serving Walsenburg at the time – the Denver and Rio Grande Western, and the Colorado and Southern. Although she can’t say when passenger service ended, Newman says when she relocated to Walsenburg from England in 1957, she did so aboard a passenger train. A Nov. 4, 2010 report on the World Journal website, which serves Huerfano, Las Animas and Colfax counties, says the last passenger train left Union Depot in 1966. Newman adds that Walsenburg has two sets of tracks running through the town, which were mostly used to transport coal mined in Las Animas and Huerfano counties. The tracks go east and west through town but one later curves to go north and south, she says.

Walsenburg Mayor James Eccher says the city has been in the talking stages with the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission through its participation in the South Central Council of Governments (SCCOG) out of Trinidad, but nothing more. Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico serves on the Passenger Rail Commission and represents SCCOG. Incidentally, Trinidad has a functioning modern passenger train depot served by Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

Eccher says Walsenburg’s Union Depot can easily be repurposed back to a passenger train stop, saying the building would have enough space – even its old ticket booth is intact. The mayor says one obstacle that might be an issue is that the parallel tracks that run through the city are owned by two different railroads – Union Pacific and BNSF. Although the mayor says he would welcome a passenger train stop in Walsenburg, he is skeptical because another passenger train route through the city going west and east from La Junta proposed by Amtrak has not materialized.

Pueblo

Built in 1889, the Pueblo Union Depot at 132 W. B St. is now owned by the Koncilja family, who seems proud of the 130-year-old facility.

“We believe the Pueblo Union Depot is the crown gem of the Union Avenue Historic District,” Joseph Koncilja says. “Our ownership of this historic property is more that of stewardship than ownership. Almost every family in the city of Pueblo has a connection with the Pueblo Union Depot either with their immigrant families arriving there at the turn of the century or through fond memories of leaving for military service during the World War I and World War II, and even Vietnam.”

Koncilja also relates the depot’s unique history. The depot came about, he says, as a result of a compromise between five feuding railroads involved in “contentious competition.” At one point a decade before the depot was built, Koncilja continues, during the Royal Gorge Railroad War, Old West legend Bat Masterson, to settle things down, took over a roundhouse near the depot site using a cannon that he took from the Pueblo armory. Masterson and other gunfighters, among them Doc Holliday, were hired in 1879 by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, which was competing against the Denver and Rio Grande. The dispute ended, without a shot fired, on June 10, 1879, when a federal court ruled in favor of Denver and Rio Grande.

Getting back to after the Union Depot was built: “Over 40 trains a day passed through the depot in its heyday,” Koncilja says. “We estimate conservatively that over 50 million people passed through the depot until the end of passenger service in 1974.”

Koncilja says the depot is now used “primarily as a mixed-use development consisting of event catering, office space and luxury apartments on the third floor.” He calls it an anchor for the Union Avenue District and says it is also close to the Southeastern Colorado Heritage Center and Museum, which has one of the largest collections of historic artifacts in the city.

Koncilja seems optimistic about repurposing the old depot as a passenger train station. And Commissioner Pace says he has spoken with the Konciljas informally about possibly using the depot as part of the Front Range Passenger Rail project.

“We hope that the Depot will be able to participate in the return of passenger service in conjunction with Amtrak’s expansion from La Junta to Pueblo,” Koncilja says, “And later be incorporated into the Front Range rail corridor from Fort Collins to Trinidad. Other than track upgrades and some necessary switches, the depot is capable of servicing passenger cars at present.”

Colorado Springs

A passenger train made its last stop at the Colorado Springs’ Old Depot on April 30, 1971, says Spencer Kellogg, a volunteer with the Colorado Train Museum in Denver. The station was owned by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.

The Ochs family is credited with saving the Old Train Depot at 10 S. Sierra Madre St. (behind the Antlers Hilton Hotel and right under the bridge at Colorado Ave.) from demolition in the 1970s, according to a Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper article published on Oct. 19, 2011. The Gazette story was about the closing of Giuseppe’s Old Depot Restaurant after 38 years as a tenant at the depot. The article states that the site of the depot has been home to a train depot since the Colorado Springs founder William Jackson Palmer laid the tracks in 1872, with the current structure opening in 1887. The article further states that the city of Colorado Springs had wanted to buy the depot to use as a transit station, but that never came to be.

The El Paso County assessor’s office currently lists the depot’s owner as ODP LLC, which is a company formed by the Ochs family.  

Stauffer and Sons Construction was another former tenant at the Old Depot Square, which consists of the historic depot and a south building that was added sometime after the last passenger train stopped there and the building was turned into a shopping center.

Ron Stauffer posted a promotional article on the Stauffer & Sons’ website on April 4, 2014, which says that the current depot has plenty of free parking, which is unheard of in downtown Colorado Springs.

“The building we share has quite a history,” Stauffer’s story states, “it … brought many visitors to Colorado Springs from places like Utah and New Mexico (including President Harry Truman, who stopped here in 1948 for a whistle-stop tour during his election campaign!).”

Pulp was unsuccessful in attempts to reach the Ochs family by phone and email in regard to what the Old Depot Square is being used for now and what accommodations, if any, need to be made to the depot to welcome passenger trains again.   

Epitaph

Bringing life to existing passenger train depots should be a welcome sight for Walsenburg, Pueblo and Colorado Springs, with each city desperately seeking ways to revitalize their downtowns. That is why the stewards of these historic train stations might have their fingers crossed in the hope that the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission will find a way to bring back these structures to their glory days as passenger train terminals.

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Western wild fires continue to rage as authorities worry over July 4 fireworks

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A growing wildfire destroyed more than 100 homes in the Colorado mountains, while other blazes across the parched U.S. West kept hundreds of other homes under evacuation orders and derailed holiday plans.

Authorities announced late Monday that a fire near Fort Garland, about 205 miles (330 kilometers) southwest of Denver, had destroyed 104 homes in a mountain housing development started by multimillionaire publisher Malcolm Forbes in the 1970s. The damage toll could rise because the burn area is still being surveyed.

Tamara Estes’ family cabin, which her parents had built in 1963 using wood and rocks from the land, was among the homes destroyed.

“I think it’s sinking in more now. But we’re just crying,” she said. “My grandmother’s antique dining table and her hutch are gone.”

“It was a sacred place to us,” she added.

Andy and Robyn Kuehler watched flames approach their cabin via surveillance video from their primary residence in Nebraska.

“We just got confirmation last night that the house was completely gone. It’s … a very sickening feeling watching the fire coming towards the house,” the couple wrote in an email Tuesday.

The blaze, labeled the Spring Fire, is one of six large wildfires burning in Colorado and is the largest at 123 square miles (318 square kilometers) — about five times the size of Manhattan. While investigators believe it was started by a spark from a fire pit, other fires, like one that began burning in wilderness near Fairplay, were started by lightning.

Nearly 60 large, active blazes are burning across the West, including nine in New Mexico and six each in Utah and California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

In Utah, authorities have evacuated 200 to 300 homes because of a growing wildfire near a popular fishing reservoir southeast of Salt Lake City amid hot temperatures and high winds. Several structures have been lost since the fire started Sunday, but it’s unclear how many, said Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forest, Fire and State Lands.

Darren Lewis and his extended family planned to spend the Fourth of July at a cabin built nearly 50 years ago by his father and uncle in a wilderness area nestled between canyons and near a mountain river.

Instead, Lewis and his family will spend the holiday nervously waiting to hear if a half-century of family memories go up in smoke because of the fire, which has grown to 47 square miles (122 square kilometers).

“There’s a lot of history and memories that go into this cabin,” said Lewis, 44, of Magna, Utah. “The cabin we could rebuild, but the trees that we love would be gone. We’re just hoping that the wind blows the other way.”

Meanwhile, a wind-fueled wildfire in Northern California that continues to send a thick layer of smoke and ash south of San Francisco was threatening more than 900 buildings.

The massive blaze was choking skies with ash and smoke, prompting some officials to cancel Fourth of July fireworks shows and urge people to stay indoors to protect themselves from the unhealthy air.

At least 2,500 people have been told to evacuate as the so-called County Fire continues to spread, said Anthony Brown, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Brown said the blaze, which started Saturday and is surging through rugged terrain northwest of Sacramento, has grown to 113 square miles (294 square kilometers) amid hot and dry weather expected throughout the day. It was 15 percent contained Tuesday.

“The weather is better than what we had over the weekend. But it’s still hampering our efforts and it’s an area of concern,” he said.

So far this year, wildfires have burned 4,200 square miles in the United States, according to the fire center. That’s a bit below last year’s acreage to date — which included the beginning of California’s devastating fire season — but above the 10-year average of 3,600 square miles.

Because of the Independence Day holiday, authorities are also concerned about the possibility of campfires or fireworks starting new fires because of the dry, hot conditions. In Colorado, many communities have canceled firework displays, and a number of federal public lands and counties have some degree of fire restrictions in place, banning things like campfires or smoking outdoors.

In Arizona, large swaths of national forests and state trust land have been closed since before Memorial Day. Some cities have canceled fireworks displays because of extreme fire danger.

In New Mexico, all or part of three national forests remain closed because of the threat of wildfire, putting a damper on holiday camping plans. The forests that are open have strict rules, especially when it comes to fireworks.

“We’re just urging people to use extreme caution,” said Wendy Mason, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico State Forestry Division. “We want people to have fun and enjoy themselves, but we prefer they leave the fireworks shows to the professionals.”

____

Associated Press writers Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City; Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco; Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona; and Alina Hartounian in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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More firefighters called in to rein in Southern Colorado fire

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Crews struggled to rein in a wildfire that was spreading in several different directions Sunday in southern Colorado.
More firefighters were arriving to battle the blaze that has prompted the evacuation of more than 2,000 homes.
“It’s a very challenging fire, I’ll be honest with you, with all the wind changes,” Shane Greer, an incident commander with the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team, told residents Sunday.
Authorities said the fire east of Fort Garland was estimated at 64 square miles (166 sq. kilometers) after unpredictable winds pushed the fire both north and south over the weekend.
About 500 firefighters have worked to contain the flames since the fire began Wednesday. A second team arrived in the area Sunday and plans to take over fighting the fire north of Highway 160.
The first team will focus on the area south of the highway.
“Usually with a fire we can chase it … we haven’t been able to chase this because it keeps going in at least three different directions,” Greer said.
Authorities said they began assessing some areas this weekend to track destroyed or damaged structures. But they cautioned that conditions remain dangerous and said they want to be sure that information is correct before notifying property owners.
The fire was expected to remain active and grow in intensity with a warm and dry forecast on Sunday.
Highway 160 remains closed and officials said they could not estimate when it will reopen or when the evacuation orders will end.
The Costilla County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday said a man was being held on suspicion of arson in connection with the fire. It is not clear if Jesper Joergensen, 52, has an attorney.
At Sunday’s public update, officials said they do not believe Joergensen started the fire intentionally.
State emergency management officials reported nine other fires remained active around the state on Sunday. Officials near Durango hoped that a cold front would slow down one of those. The fire began a month ago and is estimated at 77 square miles.
The Durango Herald reported that authorities planned to relocate some crews and equipment to help firefighters guarding communities as the flames moved north.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
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