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Ignoring Evac Order, Homeowner Helps Firefighters Douse Flames

By Melissa Garcia

NEDERLAND, Colo. (CBS4) - Despite mandatory evacuations, one Boulder County resident decided to stay home and defend his property from the Cold Springs Fire.

While his neighbors evacuated after the fire broke out last weekend, Roy Varela made the risky move of standing by as flames came closer to the home where he had lived for 30 years.

He took photos from behind his house where flames burned just feet away.

Cold Springs Fire
(credit: Roy Varela)

When firefighters arrived, Varela's son-in-law grabbed a hose and helped firefighters put out flames.

(credit: Roy Varela)

Varela spent all day stomping out hotspots.

"I literally did 8 1/2 miles of walking, and according to my iPhone, 48 flights of steps. So it was quite a day. I lost 12 pounds. I went down a whole size of pants, and I'm feeling great," Varela said.

The Boulder County Sheriff's office told CBS4 Varela's actions weren't illegal or punishable in any way.

Varela said he's also feeling grateful for the firefighters who helped him keep flames at bay.

"I felt able-bodied. And they were grateful for me being up there, and I patted out fires as long as I could but by Monday afternoon, I was exhausted."

Roy Varela
Roy Varela (credit: CBS)

He probably is not the only one who feels exhausted.

RELATED: Full Containment Of Cold Springs Fire Expected Thursday Night

A total of 554 personnel from across the state and the country spent days working the fire.

Aviation crews dropped nearly 128,000 gallons of retardant, and almost 210,000 gallons of water from the air.

cold springs lone ranger 5
(credit: Roy Varela)

Varela's house is one of 65 homes on the fire's 7-mile perimeter that firefighters were able to save.

The fire destroyed 8 homes.

"It's always devastating," said Schelly Olson, a member of the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team. "That really is the worst part for firefighters on the team is that they couldn't save every home."

Firefighters credited homeowners for having been able to save the homes.

They said homeowners created defensible space and mitigated their properties.

Go to to learn how to protect your home from wildfire.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit's Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to

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