EDWARDS — Nineteen lives perished in an exploding wildfire in Arizona, and those lives will be honored at a local benefit for wildland firefighters.
Grouse on the Green Irish Pub, in Cordillera, plays host to the Fallen Firefighters Tribute today at 7 p.m.
Kirk Pliske, a third-generation firefighter, of Avon, and his wife, Laura, were propelled to take action and set up a benefit for the families affected by the recent tragedy.
“My husband and I felt very motivated to do something,” Laura said. “We are driven by our safety officers. It is very important to us to stay reminded about what our firefighters and police officers do to keep up safe.”
The loss of 19 firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting crew in Arizona hits close to home for residents of Colorado. Nineteen years ago, the Storm King Mountain wildfire claimed the lives of 14 firefighters outside of Glenwood Springs.
“We want to broadcast it, so they know, even out here in Avon, Colorado, that we love and care about them,” Laura said.
Working directly with the Wildland Firefighters Foundation, all money raised will go directly towards the victims’ families.
The WFF was established after the Storm King tragedy in 1994. Not only is financial aid supplied to the families of the fallen firefighters, but also emotional and crisis support, according to Burk Minor, the executive director of the nonprofit foundation.
“I think this fundraiser is very important to the wildland community,” Minor said. “Although it is in honor of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, my foundation is a safety net for the whole community.”
The number of deceased firefighters has made its mark on the event threefold. The fundraiser will be held July 19, 19 years after the June 6, 1994, Storm King tragedy, and the ticket cost is $19 at Grouse on the Green in Edwards from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
The $19 ticket, available at the door, will get you as much food and drink as you desire and the melodic tunes of The Harry Baxter Band. Through the benevolence of the community there are a plethora of prizes up for grabs, including gift cards to some of the area’s finest restaurants.
“It is a huge blessing to see how much support we really have out here,” Kirk said.
The majority of the funds that the foundation acquires comes from the wallets of the firefighters themselves, Minor said, noting that $100,000 has been dispersed to the families to date.
“This is a celebration,” Laura said. “This is a celebration of the men that give of themselves every single day, even for people they don’t even know and they’ve never even met.”