Construction begins on building for a new fire department in San Cristobal

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Taos County began construction on the building to house the San Cristobal Fire Department on Aug. 23. Richard Sanchez, using heavy equipment from Taos County, started work leveling and preparing the ground to erect a steel building, which will include three bays to house firetrucks and other essentials for firefighting. A private contractor will complete the construction.

Taos County acquired the half-acre lot for the building in December 2014, and $50,000 came from the state Legislature through the work of Rep. Roberto "Bobby" Gonzales, D-Taos. Another $320,000 came from Taos County.

The needed facility is worth the effort and cost to save lives and protect property. The Carson National Forest surrounds the valley of San Cristobal. The Hondo Fire in 1996 devastated more than 10,000 acres of forest and destroyed more than two dozen houses in the Lama area. The fire extended all the way to the top of Flag Mountain. The fire started in San Cristobal. A fire department in San Cristobal could prevent destruction of homes and forests.

San Cristobal Fire Department already has four trucks, including a fire engine, a type 3 attack truck, a type 6 brush truck with four-wheel drive for rough terrain and a 2,000-gallon tank truck. Truck donations came from different fire departments, such as the Lama fire station, where the San Cristobal volunteer firefighters received training. Volunteers acquired training, protective gear, operation of equipment training and certifications in safety and emergency medical services.

Members of the fire department are Fire Chief Erik VonDorp, Capt. Pedro Cruz, Deputy Chief Joseph Godfrey and firefighters Sasha VonDorp, Kate Inglis, David Switzer and Julian De La Rosa. The fire chief in Lama is Reyes Gonzalez, and the deputy chief is Diego Vigil. The two departments are presently affiliated. Roy Blaz, retired fire chief from the Lama department, initiated the training sessions for San Cristobal volunteers five years ago.

The San Cristobal Fire Department will be able to offer service in emergencies and backup to other fire departments in Taos County. The department aims to protect property and save lives, according to Erik VonDorp.

The Spanish version of this story is here.

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