California fires present new challenge for Colorado firefighters

Posted at 5:07 PM, Nov 15, 2018

Hundreds of firefighters from across the country are also assisting in the battle to contain California’s deadly wildfires. 

That includes more than 20 Colorado firefighters scattered throughout the state. 

They all share one big fear in common with their California colleagues, and that’s coming across another victim as they go door to door in the neighborhoods devastated by flames. 

They just arrived this past weekend, and so far, they have only found the living among the burned out rubble. But it’s painfully obvious those who survived were in a big hurry to get out. 

Eric Abramson is a captain from Nederland Fire now assisting in Northern California.

"You can see that people made a run for it. In Paradise, we saw cars that clearly had run off the road," Abramson said. "What we're doing was surveying houses that hadn't been surveyed already which has the potential to find victims."

And among the charred remains of what were hundreds of homes and businesses, there always seems to be a few unexpected surprises.
"There was a dog in one of the houses looking out the window, and most of the doors were locked, but we found the garage was open, so we opened it,” Abramson recalls.  “I got to the garage door inside, and then he came right up to me, and I looked over, and he had a big bowl of water and food. We told animal control, and they came to rescue him, and I'm really hoping today he gets reunited with his owners."

This is not what Abramson and his fellow Coloradans are used to seeing when it comes to fighting fires. California presents a whole new challenge to firefighters here. 

"Like when we burn a wind-driven fire in the high country of Colorado, it really burns,” Abramson says. “Up here you might get an incomplete burn and what that means is that it can burn and then it can come back and burn again."

Something else this captain is not used to seeing back home in Colorado is the way the fires chose their targets.

"I walked through a trailer park where the only thing that you could really even barely recognize was two children's toys just sitting in the middle of the driveway," he said.

These 20 firefighters from Nederland, Blackhawk, Timberline, North Metro and Denver, will likely be here for up to two weeks. And they are always willing to add manpower to the cause, knowing they may need the favor returned on another day.