Hoback Ranches’ residents list priorities

Residents thank the more than 1,200 firefighters who helped with the Roosevelt Fire.

heavy equipment, also came up high on the list. Kurtz and Sublette County Emergency Management’s Jim Mitchell said they were driving them with the District No. 3 WYDOT engineer to “get a fair honest assessment” of the damages. Resident Pete Teller offered to share his maps of culverts and the roads’ details.

“Can you email it to me,” Mitchell asked.

“Well, not today I can’t,” Teller replied.

Kurtz also provided water-testing canisters for residents’ wells, springs and streams that he took to Cheyenne Sunday for immediate testing. He advised them to cap water and sewer lines immediately. He also reported on contacts he made with Lower Valley Energy, which is a public utility. As for CenturyLink and gas companies, customers generally need to deal with for-profit businesses, he said.

Jennifer Hayward of the Natural Resource Conservation Service announced that people from county and state agencies will be in Bondurant on Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m. to provide general information about seeding (which she advised against doing), invasive weeds, erosion and other landscape issues after a fire.

Dumpsters were another request from homeowners trying to haul away ruined building materials as possible. Mitchell advised them as private property owners to hire dumpsters “collectively” and the county will waive fire-debris fees at the Marbleton dump. It needs to be sorted by type of material as well, he added.

Resident Willy Watsabaugh said he planned to bring in a 24-foot trailer for trash tin and anyone who wanted could throw some on. Coming back to roads and public safety, Watsabaugh advised immediately posting large warning signs at the subdivision’s two entrances.

“The biggest risk right now might be from all these people coming in as ‘lookie lous,’” he said. “We should be proactive because there is that risk here. All of the roads are really affected.”

Water – in the form of several days’ worth of rain that dampened the Roosevelt Fire’s growth and as snow already dusting nearby mountains – is another high priority for Nemetz and residents.

“Water is obviously going to be the biggest thing in terms of the roads,” he said. “To divert water, we need equipment.”

Chris Lacinak, who organized the GoFundMe online fundraising drive, reported that he, his wife Stephanie Housley and volunteer Lions Club member “superstar” Mindi Crabb are working together to address short-term needs and also fielding many calls from people who want to come in and help immediately.

The Pinedale Food Basket will give out food, furnishing and clothing to residents affected by the fire – and will hold it until it is needed. Jamie Mills brought a trailer full of supplies for residents.

“Lots of people want to volunteer – companies, groups, staff – at this point in time we don’t have specific tasks to be giving people,” Lacinak said.

We need a volunteer coordinator.”

Lacinak mentioned the need for a volunteer coordinator and a “long-term recovery group” for ongoing conversations about future needs.

Teller, an experienced architect, offered to meet with homeless residents needing simple design tools “to help you get a sense of direction on where you’d like to go. I’ll sit down and help you clear your thoughts.”

Past HRSID president Bill Conley also brought up a short-term need that would evolve into a long-term issue – replacing 22 miles of exterior subdivision fences that keep out livestock and were destroyed. The Forest Service is surveying the subdivision’s west boundary; the subdivision is surrounded by private and public grazing allotments, he said.

“We were our own worst enemies,” Conley said. “We’ve got to keep that fenceline clear. … We have to get a new fence up.”

Carol Artes said at the meeting her home survived the fire but she was staying with friends in Jackson because power was still off and she and her husband were told they couldn’t get water service reconnected until they replaced the meter. She credits Sublette firefighter Kaysha Olsen for spotting smoke that would have burned their garage and likely, their house.

A young couple and newly moved to Hoback Ranches, Jenny and Matt Accurso said their home was a total loss but they have insurance to rebuild. Just that night they learned of a possible rental where they can spend the winter as they plan ahead to rebuild and give birth to their first child.

“If this happened in a community where it didn’t matter, we might just have walked away,” Matt Accurso said. “It would be hard walking away from this.”

A smoke-streaked Joe Smith, Bondurant firefighter who was still on duty, told of how the home he shares year-round with his family and brother Phil burned to the ground; even the concrete foundation was destroyed by the fire’s intense heat. Also as of that night, he thought the family found suitable housing for the winter and will work toward rebuilding next spring.

“Getting all the debris out” is his priority right now. “Trucks and a dumpster.”


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