Fact Sheet On Anniversary Of Trinidad Complex Fires

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Release date: 
May 30, 2003
Release Number: 

Quote: "I hope the June 1 anniversary of the start of the Trinidad Complex wildfires will remind the people of Las Animas County to make their property safe," says David Maurstad, regional director the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Denver. "Eight wildfires flared up across the state Thursday. They remind us of those terrible fires of a year ago-and the importance of preventing fires and floods from hurting your home or loved ones. It could happen again."

Fire: The Trinidad Complex included several fires, particularly the Spring Fire (which began in New Mexico) and the Fisher Fire (also called the James John, which began about nine miles south of Trinidad). The complex primarily burned in the area eight miles south of Stonewall, including along the south fork of the Purgatory River and in Five Mile Canyon. The fires were caused by lightning and started June 1.

Damage: The fire burned 32,896 acres. It threatened 250 residences and several commercial properties. However, no lives were lost and no buildings were burned.

Cost: The National Interagency Coordinating Center, which coordinates federal wildfire fighting efforts, spent $1.1 million as the wildfire agencies' share of fighting the fires. The state and local share of the cost was $2,242,500, of which FEMA paid 75 percent, or $1,681,875.

In addition, President Bush declared almost the entire state of Colorado a disaster area because of the fires, which resulted in FEMA/state grants of $933,448 across the state, plus $21,578,800 in low-interest disaster loans from the Small Business Administration.

Lessons learned:

  • Fires will occur in wildland areas.
  • Create defensible space around your home to protect it from fire (for more information, see firewise.org).
  • Buy flood insurance to protect against the higher flood danger that remains for years after a large fire (burned areas create higher run-off).
Last Updated: 
July 19, 2012 - 23:02
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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