Created: Sun, 06 Jul 2014 09:46:00 MST
Updated: Sun, 06 Jul 2014 10:16:37 MST
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. - Glenwood Springs came together once more to remember the Storm King tragedy 20 years ago.
Hundreds arrived at the Two Rivers Park for a ceremony, including families of the 14 firefighters killed in the South Canyon Fire.
Jim Roth described his brother as a smokejumper: a skilled firefighter with the physical training to carry heavy equipment to the nearest road or helipad after a wildfire.
The flames proved too fast, even for him.
"I had heard that there was a blow-up on a fire in Colorado, but I didn't know until the next day that he was missing,” said Roth. “We spent 2 or 3 days wondering if he was injured or alive or someplace else. It wasn't until a few days later we had confirmation of his death."
The tragedy prompted new firefighting standards and regulations to be implemented nationally.
"We hadn't really addressed the supervision and the management aspect,” said Assistant Director of Fire and Aviation for BLM Ron Dunton. “And out of that report, the investigation, that was one of the things that was identified and came true with implementation of our national fire policy."
But it also inspired survivors to do more, to prevent incidents like this from happening again.
"It really gave me passion to be able to be a part of initiatives to improve firefighter safety, so firefighters wouldn't have to experience what I experienced," said survivor Michelle Ryerson.
Even after two decades, the memories are still vivid ad the wounds are still healing. But the community is stronger than ever.