City Honors First Responders Who Stopped the “Welcome Back” Fire
ESPANOLA – On Tuesday evening the Espanola City Council celebrated the teamwork and leadership of the first responders who kept a wildfire from turning into a disaster. Mayor Alice Lucero and all City Councilors presented Certificates of Commendation for each unit or entity that worked together to stop the “Welcome Back” bosque fire
On March 15th at around 12:30 P.M., in what could have been a disastrous situation a fire broke out in the bosque near the Ohkay Owingeh lakes just north of the Wal-Mart Super Center. It very quickly grew in size consuming several acres of brush and threatening nearby homes and the Wal-Mart store.
The fast moving fire was met however by an even faster moving group of first responders. Within minutes of the first phone calls being received, police and Espanola firefighters were on the scene and immediately working to save the nearby homes.
The crews on the scene used every possible tool they had at their disposal to stop the fire. Police units without any fire equipment even resorted to using backyard garden hoses to slow down the large flames as the fire approached homes.
Theresa Martinez, with the Espanola Fire Department was the incident commander on the scene and she quickly assessed the situation and helped coordinate the eventual 17 different fire department units from many different departments. Fire departments from as far away as Velarde and Abiquiu responded to the fire and helped to stop the blaze.
Martinez, who served as command that day was in her first day back on the job after an eleven month leave. Martinez had been off duty for nearly a year as she recuperated from an injury sustained on another emergency call. The fire which eventually burned only a little more than 20 acres was given the incident name “Welcome Back Fire” in honor of Martinez and her first day back on the job.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting Mayor Lucero and the Espanola City Council presented each responding unit with a Public Safety Commendation and then singled out Martinez for an individual commendation. To add to the event, Councilor Corey Lewis, Chair of the Public Safety Committee arranged for an evening “Thank You” meal for all the first responders who could attend, sponsored by Blakes Lotaburger and Lowes Super Save.
Police officers receiving commendation from City Council