by Pam Zubeck
Mayor Steve Bach isn't inclined to support an outside examination of the city's handling of the Waldo Canyon Fire, he said today at his regular news conference.
The statement came in response to a media question about his reaction to the Independent's report this week, called "Misfire: How city leadership left residents — and their heroes — exposed during the Waldo Canyon tragedy."
Said Bach: "We are continuing to do an after action review of the Waldo Canyon Fire, as we've said before, and that will be going on for some months. I have absolute confidence in the process thus far."
He then continued: "You know, it's always easy for people to take shots, particularly people anonymously. If there's real concern out there on the part of some people that were involved in that fire, they ought to really come forward. ... I'm very comfortable with the process in place."
Bach's reference to anonymous complaints is strange, considering the Indy's report quoted so heavily from firefighters' own duty reports, which have their names atop them.
In fact, our main story referenced anonymous sources only three times. One reference was in regard to firefighters apparently having to sleep on the asphalt at Station 9 for two days. Another had to do with police officers not being told to pull back (as firefighters were told) from Mountain Shadows when the thundercloud collapsed and pushed fire into the neighborhood.
The third reference carries some irony: "The International Association of Firefighters Local 5 has presented Brown with a list of 15 'concerns,' most of which deal with the Waldo fire, sources close to Local 5 say." The Indy tried to get a copy of that list, so we wouldn't have to rely on just those sources; however, the city refused to let it come to light.
In fact, we asked the city about the other two anonymously sourced items, too, in a list of questions submitted Dec. 4. The city chose not to answer, instead issuing a generic statement.
Today, however, we did get to ask Bach one question in person that he'd ignored via email: "We're told you've acknowledged you were the one who decided to allow residents to re-enter Mountain Shadows and Cedar Heights on Tuesday morning, June 26. Why? What was the basis of your decision?"
His response: "We've issued a preliminary After Action Report. As I've already said in terms of the formal report, all that timeline is in there. I took advice from our police chief and fire chief and our manager of emergency services, who were in consultation with the fed incident commander and Forest Service, and so the decisions we made were made in group consultation to the best of our ability."