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Colorado Wildfire: Colorado's amateur radio operators fill in wildfire-coverage gaps

posted Feb 7, 2013, 10:48 PM by Brad Rupp   [ updated Feb 8, 2013, 8:41 PM ]

A 5:15 a.m. phone call Sunday asked amateur radio operator Randy Long to find more volunteers to aid communication in the High Park fire zone — and warned him to evacuate his home.

Long, an Amateur Radio Emergency Service coordinator for Larimer and Weld counties, fled his house southeast of Buckhorn Mountain and started rallying more licensed ham operators to work the fire.

Since Saturday, he has been managing operators staffing eight-hour shifts around the clock. They're doing such things as setting up portable radio repeaters and relaying messages between the fire lines and command posts. About 40 operators have volunteered.

"My guys don't start before I do, and they don't finish after I do," said Long, 55, who still doesn't know whether his home burned in the 46,600-acre blaze.

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