- Pam Zubeck
- Jerri Marr, who spoke at many fire briefings, earned a promotion.
As the Waldo Canyon Fire unfolded in June and July 2012, and the Black Forest Fire a year later, key figures took center stage. Some lent an air of calm amid the chaos; others, authority. Many are no longer in those roles today. Here's an update:
Jerri Marr. If a star emerged it was Marr, who came to the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands in December 2010 and became a household name as forest supervisor during the Waldo fire. She was the key figure in news briefings, offering updates, fire conditions and assurance to a nervous community. She made a point of meeting the thousands of firefighters assigned to the blaze and was commended by the Army, Air Force Academy, National Association of Black Journalists and the city of Colorado Springs, according to the Forest Service. The U.S. Olympic Committee chose Marr as a 2012 Torch Bearer, and two Springs restaurants named sandwiches after her. She started "Smokey Cares," an outreach program for kids affected by the fire. On Feb. 20, 2014, the Forest Service announced she'd been promoted to National Assistant Director for Recreation, Business, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources for the Forest Service's National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she remains today.
Mayor Steve Bach. A first-time politician with no experience in dealing with the media, Bach had been in office only a year when Waldo hit. He was largely applauded for his briefings to citizens, though some criticized him for not revealing which houses had burned until two days after the fire swept into the city. Bach didn't seek a second term and rarely, if ever, is seen at public events.
Rich Harvey. Incident commander for the Waldo and Black Forest fires, Harvey was head of the Great Basin Incident Management Team from Utah, Nevada and Idaho. He was extremely popular with locals for his friendly nature and spirited but reassuring reports on the fires. Harvey retired in the fall of 2014 and lives in the Reno-Carson, Nevada, area.
Terry Maketa. Sheriff at that time, Maketa orchestrated a smooth evacuation from Ute Pass during the first days of Waldo, and oversaw operations for the Black Forest Fire. Since resigning near the end of his third term in late 2014 amid allegations of staff favoritism due to personal relationships, Maketa was indicted May 25. Charges stem from allegations he threatened to cancel a jail contract if an employee wasn't fired, jailed a woman who accused a deputy of domestic violence, and punished staffers over an alleged missing internal affairs file of his successor, Bill Elder. Maketa is free on bond awaiting a Sept. 6 court appearance.
Rich Brown: Brown was named fire chief by Bach in late 2011 after serving as interim chief for months. The Fire Department's approach to the Waldo fire was confused and poorly planned, firefighters themselves said in fire reports. The International Association of Firefighters Local 5 gave Brown a list of 15 "concerns" that summer, most dealing with Waldo. Brown retired in April 2013 but was kept on the payroll at chief's pay as a consultant through the end of that year. In late 2013 or early 2014, Brown went to Redmond, Washington, to serve as interim deputy chief for Tommy Smith, who had served as interim chief here after Brown retired, but in August 2013 took the Redmond chief's job. After about a year, Brown returned to the Springs from Washington and is retired.
Jim Schanel. Longtime Springs firefighter and battalion chief, Schanel ran the Mountain Shadows operation, though he had been sent home for rest on June 26 after working a 24-hour shift in Cedar Heights against the Waldo blaze. He didn't stop for even a drink of water for 12 hours as he orchestrated and carried out a plan to "box" the fire to prevent its spread. His plan prevented the fire from spreading farther. Schanel retired two years ago.
Steve Cox. Former fire chief and acting city manager, Cox was hired by Bach as chief of staff/economic vitality chief in 2011. Cox was on hand at most news briefings during Waldo. As the city struggled with the fire's aftermath, Cox retired on July 31, 2012, collecting $92,648 in severance pay. Nineteen months later, he returned as chief of staff and left the city when Bach's term ended in June 2015. Cox, though retired, is a private consultant on development and planning projects.
Pete Carey. Having been named police chief five months before Waldo, Carey had to deal with the last-minute evacuation of some 26,000 people from Mountain Shadows with literally no notice. Police officers raced to the scene and engaged in heroic efforts to put out the fire, even as residents fled with little more than the clothes on their backs. Carey remains police chief. Scheduled to retire this April, he stayed on after the state pension plan was changed to allow his continued service.
Marc Snyder. Mayor of Manitou Springs at that time, Snyder became a central figure in the sudden evacuation of Manitou as the Waldo fire broke out. His folksy yet commanding presence gave reassurance to the town, including during subsequent flooding from the fire's legacy burn scar. He presided over the aggressive pursuit of federal grants and efforts to accelerate returning the tourist mecca to normalcy. Snyder, also an attorney, left office in January after 12 years in Manitou government.
Bob Cutter. Drafted by Bach to oversee the city's recovery after the 347 homes burned, Cutter set up Colorado Springs Together, a nonprofit that linked residents who lost their homes with services. The CST recovery center closed July 18, 2013. Cutter, a retired businessman, in 2014 helped establish Colorado Springs Forward, a nonprofit set up to influence policy and political campaigns.