I have been musing about the differences between our last natural disaster (Gold King) and our latest one – the 416 Fire.
Gold King discharged one slug of water that looked horrible; did not kill any fish and did no lasting damage to the river; its economic impact was limited to a couple of weeks of lost revenue to the rafting industry and irrigators that chose not to take the water.
And the 416 Fire: major economic impacts to Silverton and Durango, every part of our economy was affected; lost revenue for most businesses; tens of thousands of people affected by smoke that made our air hazardous; a large fish kill and effects from sediment and ash with every rain for years; mudslides that close the highway and have damaged homes.
Now the responses. The EPA was excoriated by everyone; states and a plethora of entities sued EPA; there are still articles about Gold King in the Herald. And the 416 Fire: minimal blame on the railroad which in all probability started the fire; many letters and signs in support; no lawsuit.
Where are the lawsuits on the railroad? How much insurance do they have? How about the property owners that chose to live in the rural interface paying back us taxpayers who paid for the firefighters? That alone is over $30 million. And now, the city council is pondering a tax hike, partly to make up for lost revenue due to the fire.
Our city council spent so much time and is continuing to do so thinking that our homeless population will start a fire. How about addressing what is apparently a major risk – the train?