One year ago, Alabama arsonists started the Cold Springs Fire


By Max R. Weller

Read the article in the Daily Camera here: One year on, recovery . . . Copied below in its entirety:

Mary Pfeifer pets her dog, Bob, on the site of her home which was burned in the Cold Springs Fire one year ago. She was meeting with a local contractor on

Mary Pfeifer pets her dog, Bob, on the site of her home which was burned in the Cold Springs Fire one year ago. She was meeting with a local contractor on Saturday to talk about getting her well set up as part of her rebuilding process. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

Boulder County resident Mary Pfeifer sat atop a large rock on a steep incline on Bonanza Drive to the northeast of Nederland on Saturday afternoon, with her friend Dave Beavans, and her dog, Bob.

They were waiting for a man from a drilling company to show up and discuss where to put the well. Just below her was the flat area where her double A-frame house once stood before it was destroyed, along with seven other homes in the area, when the Cold Springs Fire swept through in July of last year.

“I’ve been her friend for many years,” Beavans said. “I’m in the lighting business so I’ve been donating my time and stuff to help her out.”

The fire broke out on July 9, 2016 and scorched more than 500 acres. Pfeifer’s property has the burnt remains of trees still standing — snags in forest ecology parlance — and she says the houses visible in the distance weren’t as easily seen before the fire.

She has been staying in a neighbor’s cottage for the past year. Although she didn’t know the neighbor well before the fire, Pfeifer said the generosity extended to her is evidence of the closeness felt among many residents of the sparsely-populated community.

“It’s been great for my dog, because he knows the neighborhood,” she said. “That’s been a blessing for both of us.”

When the fire was first reported burning near Sugarloaf Road and the Peak to Peak Highway which heads north out of Nederland, fire officials initially thought it would be contained quickly. However, it spiraled out of control, and they drew up provisional evacuation plans that stretched to the Boulder city limits.

Overall, nearly 2,000 people were evacuated for several days and Boulder County Sheriff’s deputies blocked roads in and out of the neighborhood. Impromptu signs sprang up in and around Nederland thanking the legion of firefighters who came to stop the fire.

The fire roared up a ridge and into Pfeifer’s parcel of land, destroying her home and the one next door. It left other homes in the immediate vicinity untouched and Beavans said on Saturday that it was but for the grace of God that the fire didn’t destroy the entire neighborhood.

Alabama residents Jimmy Andrew Suggs and Zackary Ryan Kuyendall, who had been camping near the ignition point admitted to accidentally setting the fire. They pleaded guilty to felony arson and were sentenced to work release at the Boulder County Jail, followed by probation.

Pfeifer has spent the last year dealing with her insurance company — it’s not covering the entire cost of rebuilding — and Boulder County, which is requiring code upgrades to the new house that include improvements such as a sprinkler system and fire resistant roofing.

“I had a rustic mountain home,” Pfeifer said. “Now I have to build a city house in the mountains.”

Charlie Schmidtmann is a firefighter with the Nederland Fire Protection District who lost his home in the fire. His wife Bretlyn is also a first responder and the two continued to fight the fire even after learning their home on Sherwood Avenue had burned down. They have been staying at a home nearby.

Schmidtmann has also had to work through the hurdles of insurance companies, county permitting, plans for his new house and provide a detailed list of everything he lost in the fire to the insurance company.

“All that together is more than a full-time job,” he said. “It’s pretty unbelievable.”

He is also a contractor, so he is doing most of the work with one other person. He hopes to have the house done and ready to move in by next year’s Super Bowl.

Schmidtmann said part of the frustration of recovering from the loss of his home has been the people who drive through the area to look at the destroyed homes, and other damage wrought by the fire.

“I’m a firefighter for the town of Nederland, so I’m around fire all the time,” he said. “I go home and all I see is the destruction of the fire, and I see a lot of people who aren’t sympathetic. They are gawkers who come up and point.”

He said that some of the people have been bold enough to come onto his property, ignoring the posted “No Trespassing” signs and claiming that they are only “passing through.” He said the trespassing slowed down after six months, but it hasn’t completely gone away. And that has added to the stress.

“It’s heartbreaking for us,” he said. “We don’t like to consider ourselves victims. Unfortunately, it’s kind of the position we are in.”

A fire burns behind a house during the Cold Springs Fire in July 2016 in Nederland. Almost 2,000 people were evacuated and eight homes destroyed by the

A fire burns behind a house during the Cold Springs Fire in July 2016 in Nederland. Almost 2,000 people were evacuated and eight homes destroyed by the fire. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)


Suggs and Kuykendall may be returning to Alabama to serve four years of probation, after completing two years of work release at Boulder County Jail.

Dumb (L) and Dumber (R)

This is much better than keeping the INBREDS here in Colorado, where they would be homeless and pampered by the do-gooders, at least until they commit more serious felonies.

It’s almost unbelievable that local nonprofits and Boulder city staff still have NOT prioritized homeless shelter / services for Boulder County residents (valid photo ID and proof of one year’s residency required). What’s up with that, Boulder City Council?

Read this letter-to-the-editor from a year ago: ‘Jeff Schulz: Boulder should stop importing criminals’ from the DC. Copied below in its entirety:

As a longtime Boulder resident, I would like to request that both the City Council and the county commissioners explain why they insist on inviting homeless transients from all over the country to stay here. These two governing bodies are directly responsible for the havoc that out-of-town criminals inflict in our community, including the uptick in rapes and recently a huge wildfire.

I recognize citizens are also complicit because we’ve allowed special interests to essentially bring Boulder to its knees in the name of “compassion.” The non-profits that make money off of the homeless situation should also outline how their services are in the citizen’s best interest and why they can’t at least filter out the sex offenders.

As far as I can tell, these groups are not serving “a local need,” they are merely creating huge problems that the rest of the citizens have to contend with every day. We seem to be long on “activists” and “advocates,” but short on accountability. And since the D.A. is spending his time avoiding investigating what appears to be huge conflict of interests at the council level, the citizens simply have to demand better governance directly.

For example, I would like the well-paid city manager to personally visit the woman that was recently raped on the Boulder Creek path and apologize on behalf of the citizens, and explain that, while it’s unfortunate she had such a horrific experience at the hands of another criminal transient, the city’s policies are quite sound.

I would also like to request that the mayor quit worrying about ice cream sandwiches and that she and her sister on the county commission apologize to the citizens of Nederland and start reducing funding for the agencies that are importing criminals in from all over the country.

Jeff Schulz


(This post e-mailed to Boulder City Council.)


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