Wildfire work interrupts Eagle department’s memorial to fallen firefighters | VailDaily.com

Wildfire work interrupts Eagle department’s memorial to fallen firefighters

The Lake Christine fire on Basalt Mountain on Thursday evening, July 5. Firefighters from around the region converged on that blaze as it spread, interrupting a Greater Eagle Fire Protection District running challenge to honor fallen firefighters.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

The fallen

• Granite Mountain Hotshots: On June 30, 2013, 19 members of the firefighting team were killed while battling the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona.

• Storm King: On July 6, 1994, 14 firefighters were killed working a blaze near Glenwood Springs. Those firefighters are honored in a memorial at Two Rivers Park in that city.

EAGLE — Work sometimes gets in the way of a great idea. Sometimes, that work carries a good bit of irony.

Doug Cupp, chief of the Eagle-based Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, in June had an idea. He and other Greater Eagle firefighters would honor 33 firefighters killed in the line of duty battling wildfires. Of the 33, 19 were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Those firefighters died working a fire in Arizona on June 30, 2013. The remaining 14 were killed on July 6, 1994, fighting the Storm King fire near Glenwood Springs.

165 miles of running

Cupp thought it would be a good memorial for those fallen comrades if members of his department ran 5 miles for each of the fallen between June 30 and July 6. That adds up to 165 miles of running.

“We always like to keep things in the front of our minds about firefighters lost,” Cupp said of the challenge.

The challenge was a way to keep firefighters in shape, honor the fallen and keep the local crew thinking about their own jobs.

The Greater Eagle crew was soon joined by the Gypsum Fire Protection District and a department from Grand County.

In all, 17 people signed up, including Cupp’s son, who had put in four miles as of the middle of the week.

Hugh Fairfield Smith, the wildland fire specialist for Greater Eagle, said the idea was “cool and relevant” for participants. It was also a way to raise money for a wildland firefighters’ foundation.

‘A competitive bunch’

During the challenge, Fairfield Smith said firefighters were all pushing one another to put in a few more miles.

“We’re a competitive bunch,” Fairfield Smith said. “We’ll get texts: ‘I saw you ran six (miles) today; I’m going for seven.’”

The firefighters were putting in a good bit of road work, but they may have fallen a bit short. That’s where work got in the way.

Randy Cohen, the public information officer for Greater Eagle, wrote in a Friday, July 6, email that the firefighters as of that morning had logged 119.78 miles, with a big push planned for that evening.

But the running was put aside for a while as firefighters from around the region were called out to fight the Lake Christine Fire near Basalt.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2930.

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