More than 30 dental practices were affected by Colorado wildfire, Dr. Mark Albers tells his story

August 21, 2012

The wildfire that raged through Colorado Springs, Colo., this summer destroyed the houses of hundreds of people including two dentists who practice in the metropolitan area of more than 650,000 people.

The wildfire that raged through Colorado Springs, Colo., this summer destroyed the houses of hundreds of people including two dentists who practice in the metropolitan area of more than 650,000 people.

Fortunately for those dentists and others whose practices were impacted by the blazes, the Colorado Springs Dental Society has been able to help them pick up the pieces including tapping a relief fund for dentists impacted by the disasters.

“Besides two dentists who both lost their homes, there were 30 dentists whose practices were affected,” said Sharyn Markus, executive director of the society.

One of those who lost his home is Mark Albers who has practiced general and cosmetic dentistry in the area for 25 years. The fire started June 23 while Albers and his wife, Carla, were camping out of town. They returned home after they received a text message from a neighbor informing that their neighborhood was in danger.

“We could see the fires as we drove into town,” Albers said.

The threat, however, did not appear to be imminent and Albers returned to work. A few days later, the blazes roared closer.

“At first, we had the feeling that it was going to go away,” he said. “It was not going to affect us. But all of sudden we started to see smoke in our office.”

The winds were 65 mph to 85 mph and the blaze had jumped a ridge. His house was in jeopardy.

“My wife opened the garage door and she saw the fires,” he said. “She packed up as quickly as she could and the office was the central meeting place.”

Though the Albers’ neighborhood was evacuated, a neighbor snuck back in a couple days later and returned with the news that the Albers’ family home was destroyed. 

Albers said he has coped by keeping the loss in perspective, particularly after lives were lost in the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo.

“Losing a house is nothing like losing a child,” he said. 

The dental society has provided assistance to dentists including helping them complete the paperwork necessary to receive a $5,000 disaster relief grant from the American Dental Association.

The fund provides assistance to members of the profession who have lost property in a declared disaster.  

Markus said it makes sense for the local society to assist dentists because they also felt the impact of the disaster, and were able to identify who might need help.

“We have a closer connection,” she said. “We pretty much know who the dentists are in our area. We reached out to them.”

There are 400 dentists who are members in the society and 500 in the area, she said.

In addition to helping dentists complete the disaster grant paperwork, the society distributed toothbrushes and toothpaste to 32,000 people who were evacuated because of the wildfire.

Albers said the money from the relief fund helped him to cover costs related to his home’s destruction, such as renting temporary housing. He said he is not sure yet where he will rebuild his house, but he is gratified by the support he has received.

“Just the outpouring of support from fellow dentists has been wonderful,” he said.