Newsmakers: Fire Evacuees


Journal/Sam Green file

There is, perhaps, no good way to handle the horror of being asked to leave your home while fires burn increasingly closer, but grace under pressure characterized the response of most fire evacuees victimized by the Weber and Roatcap fires in 2012.

The fear, worry and sheer panic that hundreds of residents felt during these fires is difficult for those not impacted to comprehend.

Nearly 200 homes were evacuated in the county during the course of the two fires, 140 during the Weber fire and another 30 in the midst of the Roatcap fire. Evacuees stayed close during the Weber fire, many standing at the top of Mancos Hill watching the flames creep over the hills toward their homes. Little drama existed while fire crews battled the Mancos blaze, as the community drew together to support one another during the week-long evacuation period. Drama, however, was a highlight of the Roatcap evacuation. Cortez Middle School teacher John McHenry was arrested after an altercation with a Montezuma County sheriff's deputy enforcing evacuation orders. The altercation occurred when McHenry was told he would not be allowed onto a blocked road. McHenry has been charged with second-degree assault on a peace officer, a felony, and misdemeanor chargers of obstructing government operations, resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer.

With all the drama and concern over the two blazes, not one home was destroyed, thanks to the determined work firefighters.