Summit County senator misses ceremony to fight wildfire | VailDaily.com

Summit County senator misses ceremony to fight wildfire

Summit Daily News

Special to the Daily/Senate DemocratsState Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Summit County, a certified wildland firefighter, skipped the governor's 'State of the State' address on Thursday to help battle the Neva blaze north of Boulder. The haze is smoke from the fire.

Summit County’s state Sen. Dan Gibbs may have been absent from the governor’s “State of the State” address Thursday, but the only heat he drew was from the Boulder wildfire.

Gibbs, a Democrat from Summit County, is a certified wildland firefighter who was called in about 10 p.m. Wednesday to help fight the Neva fire north of Boulder.

He worked through the morning hours on the front lines of the fire while Gov. Bill Ritter gave his annual address to the state Legislature, according to the Colorado Senate Democratic press office.

For Gibbs, the matter is a bit of a personal issue: He has taken the lead on several bills to combat the dying trees left by the pine beetle, and he co-sponsored legislation in the 2008 session to establish a Wildfire Interim Committee, which he chaired.

The committee created the four bills which were introduced in the Senate on the first day of the session on Wednesday.

Ritter acknowledged the thousands of Colorado families affected by the fire in his address and cited Gibbs for his efforts.

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“Even as I speak, wildfires fed by extreme winds burn in Boulder County threatening homes and other property,” Ritter said. ” … Instead of being here in this chamber this morning, Sen. Dan Gibbs is on the front lines, fighting that fire … We pray for the safety of Sen. Gibbs and all of the firefighters as they battle that blaze and that wind.”

Gibbs, who used to staff then-U.S. Rep. Mark Udall’s office in Minturn, continued to work on the fire line late Thursday afternoon but hopes to return to the Senate chambers this morning.