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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript

Interview

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Thank you, Governor. Busy, busy times for you, I know. But there is this feeling, particularly as you get this one Colorado Springs fire under control that the worst is over s. That how you're feeling?

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: We're certainly feeling that way. And now, we're beginning to look at how do we rebuild and begin the recovery. But we also know that Mother Nature will be fickle out here. So, we're keeping ourselves very alert.

CROWLEY: Governor, I know you have -- you have probably flown over a lot of these fires. I imagine you've visited scenes of the scenes of the destruction if you can get close to it. Just personally, can you give us through your eyes what you saw?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, it's been difficult. I mean, devastating that the Waldo fire in Colorado Springs, when we flew up there Tuesday night, and it was like your worst nightmare of a movie set of trying to show what the apocalypse or Armageddon would look like.

At first, from a distance, we flew on a helicopter in. This was as the fire was going on, this firestorm going on. And I thought it was trees burning. As we got closer, it was homes, basically almost 350 -- almost 350 homes burned in a couple of hours. It was that fast.

CROWLEY: Seven wildfires in all, I think. Are all of them under control? Are any of them out? Give us the kind of current situation.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, almost all are under control. We have one out in Grand Junction, and Western Colorado, that's not completely out of control.

But the largest one that was almost 88,000 acres, we called the High Park Fire, just west of Fort Collins, it is completely contained. And that's the one -- that was the first really big one that was so difficult, again, many homes -- these lovely kind of secluded mountain homes where people were trying to -- they had a sense of safety that this fire has completely destroyed.

CROWLEY: I was going to ask if you had looking back now that we hope this is under control. Are there any coulda, shoulda, wouldas here as we look back at the destruction? Or is the lesson here just you really can't outfight Mother Nature if she is ready to unleash the worst of the fury?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, you know, the -- there are lots of coulda, shoulda, wouldas, and we're going to continue to examine those. We'll have building codes, no-shake roofs, what we call defensible space, make sure that trees are at least 75 feet away from homes -- all that stuff we want to do.

But we've also recognized -- we've seen the courage of the firefighters and what an incredible job they've done. And people -- I mean, the victims of this fire, the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department, when the High Park Fire first burst into a real -- became a big fire a month ago, they were down defending their one-room schoolhouse, Stove Prairie Schoolhouse. And the volunteer firefighters protecting the schoolhouse, and could see up the canyon, the homes were going to burn, they kept saving this community treasure.

Those kinds of acts of heroism in a way become so inspiring that it pulls a community together. We say, all right, so Mother Nature's, you know, knocked us around all this time, we've been here before. We're going to come back, we're going to be -- this is going to make us stronger than ever as a community.

That's what Mayor Bach of Colorado Springs was very articulate when the president was out here, just talking about how Colorado Springs -- they're going to come back.

CROWLEY: Lots and lots of stories out of Colorado this week, individual stories and, of course, the big story.

Governor John Hickenlooper, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

HICKENLOOPER: You bet. Thank you, Candy.

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