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7Everyday Hero John Van Doren works to cut wildfire risk in Bailey, Colorado

Posted at 1:17 PM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-22 15:17:20-05

BAILEY, Colorado — BAILEY, Colo. — For people living in Bailey, Colorado, images of Paradise, California are never far from their minds.

"It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of where and when," said Platte Canyon Fire Cheif, Joe Burgett.

"We're the same kind of community; one way in, one way out roads," said Kathy Lower, a concerned resident and volunteer for Fire Adapted Bailey.

It's why John Van Doren is working so hard to make sure his community is ready.

"We can't make forest fires go away here, but maybe we can do enough work and do it strategically, so instead of a thousand-home event, it's only a hundred-home event," Van Doren said.

Van Doren has worked tirelessly to reduce the wildfire risk in Park County, not only forming firewise communities, but also creating Fire Adapted Bailey, a non-profit that works to secure grant money for fire mitigation work.

"With the addition of Fire Adaptive Bailey, they're doing that heavy lifting and the fire district is there now as a supportive role," Burgett said.

Today, more than 40 percent of the remote community is firewise. Van Doren is now crowdfunding $100,000 to help pay to remove fuels from nearby roads.

"He is just the kind of guy who is geared to success and figuring out how to get from A to B to C," Lower said.

Van Doren's passion for his community is palpable.

"I get a great sense of gratification just making a contribution and seeing this outpouring of support for what we're trying to do," Van Doren said.

But it's his dedication to making sure his neighbors are safe that makes him a 7Everyday Hero.

"His passion for our community has been instrumental in making this as effective as it is," Burgett said.

To learn more about he group's crowdfunding efforts click here.

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.