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East Peak Fire prompts hospital to tackle fire mitigation

By Dana Molina, Multimedia Journalist/Telemundo Anchor, dana.molina@krdo.com
Published On: Jun 23 2013 04:49:19 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 23 2013 11:59:49 PM CDT

Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center tackles fire mitigation and prepares for the possibility of evacuation.

WALSENBURG, Colo. -

The East Peak Fire prompted Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center employees not only to begin evacuation plans, but also to tackle fire mitigation.

The hospital is in Walsenburg, an area under a pre-evacuation stage, and the staff is ready in case that gets upgraded and they need to evacuate. They have trucks filled with medical supplies and vans ready to transport almost 100 hospital patients

"We have to help them with just about everything, which I'm glad we're here for that," Director of Emergency Management Dave McGraw said. "But when we have to move them, that is a huge undertaking. Huge undertaking."

The blaze sparked another huge undertaking - fire mitigation. In the past, hospital staff had only cut down dying trees. Since the East Peak fire began, they've cut down more than 400 trees with the help of volunteers and the San Isabel Electric Association.

"They spent really 2 long days knocking down trees, and grinding them, and chipping them and making sure we've got a perimeter that's about 500 feet from our facility that we can defend now," McGraw said.

A disaster would devastate the whole community.

"We are the only game in town as far as health care goes," McGraw said. "We have to keep this structure, even if we have to leave it temporarily. We don't have the dual hospitals like Pueblo does. We're the only health care facility between Trinidad and Pueblo."

McGraw said although they are ready to evacuate if they need to, the hospital is running on a normal day-to-day basis.

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