Watching 100-foot flames searing the slopes of Colorado on TV can be frightening for meeting planners and attendees whose meetings and conventions are scheduled for the mile-high city this month. But rest assured, it’s not as bad as it looks, says Richard Grant, director of communications with the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"The truth is, the wildfires are having no impact on meetings," says Grant. "The day the fires started (Sunday) was also the start of the J.D. Edwards Users Group meeting with 7,000 people in Denver. There was the smell of a campfire in the air, but certainly there was no health hazard. Their meeting has not been impacted in any way, and is progressing as normal."
He says that people not familiar with the hugeness of Colorado are seeing the pictures and hearing extreme statements on the news outlets and thinking that the flames are bearing down on Denver like a freight train. "The fire is 40 miles from downtown Denver and 100 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s like someone talking about evacuating New York City because there’s a fire in Philadelphia," Grant adds.
"Of course, our hearts are with the people who have lost their homes, but at this point there has been no loss of life and no impact on business or meetings in Denver or Colorado," he says. Including Colorado Springs, which also has escaped the flames.
Now-contained fires posed an equally intimidating scene on the state’s Western Slope earlier in the week, but the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau doesn’t anticipate any repercussions to its meetings, either. "The wildfires have not had an effect on meetings to date," says spokesperson Kayla Arnesen. "We have had no cancellations, and do not expect the fires to impact our summer meetings business."
But anyone who has an upcoming meeting in Colorado or other drought-stricken states should get their contingency plans in place, just in case. The recent wildfires in the Rockies came several days before June 14, the official start of the fire season, and there is a possibility that this summer’s fire season will be a bad one.
For updates on the Colorado wildfire situation, go to the Denver Post.