Storm, random events bring helter-skelter night of emergency calls to Routt County 1st responders |

Storm, random events bring helter-skelter night of emergency calls to Routt County 1st responders

Power lines lay on the ground near the Silver Spur neighborhood in Steamboat Springs Tuesday afternoon. A fast-moving storm knocked over this power pole and several other lines along U.S. Highway 40.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Tuesday afternoon and evening turned into a very busy time for emergency responders, electric technicians and emergency dispatchers.

“There was a two-hour period where it was helter-skelter for awhile,” Routt County Emergency Management Director David “Mo” DeMorat said.

The action started when a gusty storm moved into the area from the east over the Continental Divide.

Gusts of 40 to 50 mph wreaked havoc on trees.

At 4:38 p.m., firefighters were dispatched to the first report of a tree branch that fell on a power line near mile marker 138 on U.S. Highway 40.

“It was pretty busy,” Routt County Communications Manager Jason Nettles said.

Routt County Communications was also dealing with a minor impact on their radio system related to a power outage that knocked out power to communications equipment on Emerald Mountain. That tower site does not have back-up generator power.

“There is a lot of equipment up there,” Nettles said.

Ten minutes after the first storm-related call, first responders began combing Steamboat Lake for a man who disappeared into the water.

There were two more fires related to tree branches taking down power lines. One incident sparked a wildfire along Routt County Road 42. While not a first responder, DeMorat went to that fire to help control traffic while everyone was busy.

At one point, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue had four simultaneous calls.

“We handled everything, and fortunately, nothing was too big or crazy,” Chief Mel Stewart said. “We got busy.”

At 5:41 p.m. police were called to a disturbance at a campground on the west side of Steamboat. It involved two men. One was shirtless, yelling and chasing someone with a stick.

At 5:53 p.m. there was a rollover crash involving three young people. No one was injured.

At 6:41 p.m. there was a fire at a home in the West End Subdivision. Lightning had hit the home.

Steamboat firefighters had three more medical calls overnight.

There are a lot of people recreating and visiting Steamboat right now, which keeps first responders busy.

“It’s consistent calls for service right now, but this is the height of summer,” Steamboat Police Commander Annette Dopplick said. “Folks are out and about for sure, and you get a little weather thrown in there …”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

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