Reporting on Wildfires

class="MsoNormal">The Blue Bell wildfire is the first wildfire of the 2013 season I’ve had to cover. Last year, wildfires popped up early in the season. I’m fairly certain I covered two or three by June 2012.

By all accounts the Blue Bell wildfire was not a massive wildfire. It only grew up to about 15-25 acres in size.

Law enforcement treated it like it was a massive fire, though. More than 9,000 alerts were sent out to residents’ phones telling them to either prepare to evacuate – or to evacuate immediately.

Most people were glad the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department overreacted, especially after what happened during the Lower North Fork fire last year.

Wildfires are nothing to mess with. Last year, it seemed like I was covering one almost every single day. As a reporter, they’re difficult to cover – because you have to move quickly.

What I mean by that is when a fire breaks out you have to try and get there immediately. If you’re 30 minutes late, you likely won’t get good access to the fire scene. Law enforcement in Colorado likes to block off roads quickly – not allowing anyone in to the fire area.

On Monday, Sully and I got to Evergreen quickly to cover the Blue Bell fire. We actually got there before most fire trucks did.

We pulled over to the side of the road when we saw a family packing up their belongings. It was clear they had been told to evacuate.

We spent only ten minutes with them and shot as much as we could. Then we moved up to the blockade to grab more video.

We spent a few more minutes at the blockade before rushing down the hill to get to our 4pm live shot at Evergreen High School.

During wildfires, Reporters and Photojournalists have to manage their time wisely.

Photo from covering the High Park Fire in 2012

Photo from covering the High Park Fire in 2012