Rio Grande County Emergency Manager gives update

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — New Rio Grande County Emergency Manager Brian Burrel gave an update to county commissioners on March 22 and informed the board of some coming changes to the emergency plans for both the county and the Kent Rominger Airport.

Burrell said he other area agencies responded to the March 8 fire in Monte Vista on Clay Street earlier in the month. The fire destroyed two structures and a shed. According to Burrell, the City of Monte Vista was seeking a damage assessment of the area and that he was assisting with it.

“I am working with David Osborn through the Department of Fire Prevention and Control and Monte Vista City Manager Gigi Dennis to do a damage assessment of that area. The reason for that is because there may be some reimbursement available though most of the time reimbursement requires the loss of at least five structures. We will go through the process anyway because you just never know,” explained Burrell. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Burrell said that he also responded to the officer-involved shooting in Monte Vista on March 21. According to the press release issued by the Monte Vista Police Department, “Two members of the Monte Vista Police Department were dispatched to a 911 call in the 1200 block of South Broadway within Monte Vista reporting a disturbance and that there was blood all over the place. While they were enroute they also received a call requesting a welfare check of a person at the residence.”

The incident is still under investigation with the help of Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office. Burrell stated that he provided tents, water, and food at the scene for officers and investigators while they worked.

“The crews were out there for several hours waiting for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and other resources,” he said.

Earlier this month Kent Rominger Airport Manager Earl Robinson retired from the position. Burrell has taken the lead on some of the ongoing projects at the airport until a new manager is hired. Burrell has a background in medical flight for life and other aeronautic experience.

“I am developing the Airport Emergency Operations plan as it was non-existent at this point. Basically, right now, in the airport operations plan, it instructs people to call 911 in case of emergency, which is what people need to do but there is still a lot more that needs to happen and be delineated to who does what,” explained Burrell.

Burrell said that the plan would include how airport personnel and local emergency services need to respond to emergencies at the airport such as fuel fires and other potential dangers. Burrell will present a document for all agencies to agree upon when it is in a final draft phase.