The risk of forest fires is increasing: be prepared

The following was provided by the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS).

Colorado is experiencing a new normal for wildfires, with several destructive and record-breaking blazes occurring in the past two years due to extreme weather and drought.

With continued drought and warming temperatures across the state continuing to increase wildfire risk for many Coloradans, state and federal agencies that manage wildfires and forests are urging residents to join efforts to reduce this risk.

May is Wildfire Awareness Month, an annual celebration to encourage residents to better prepare their homes and communities for wildfires. With more than half of all Coloradans living in the Wilderness-Urban Interface (WUI), susceptible to wildfires, it is important that people take steps to reduce the fire risk to their homes and create communities more adapted to fire.

The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) predicts above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation by June. Continued hot and dry conditions are expected to result in intensified drought conditions and earlier than average spring snowpack runoff, resulting in above-normal fire potential that will spread across southern Colorado in May. and most of Colorado in June.

“Wildfire season is a thing of the past – it’s a year-round battle. Colorado’s main fire season now averages 78 days longer than it did in the 70s,” said said DFPC Director Mike Morgan “We are calling on those who live, work and play in Colorado to help reduce the impact of wildfires by being vigilant, adhering to fire restrictions when they are in place. and doing your part to protect your property from wildfires.”

Measures to reduce the risk of forest fire

During Community Wildfire Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 7, many Colorado communities will take steps to reduce their risk of fire. Colorado is home to 186 official Firewise USA sites, places where neighbors are working together to reduce their risk of inevitable wildfires.

Whether or not they live on a Firewise USA site, homeowners living in the WUI can perform a number of practical activities to protect their home and property from wildfires. The CSFS recommends the following wildfire preparedness activities:

• Rake and remove pine needles and dry leaves within 5 feet of the house, as well as under decks, porches, sheds and play structures.

• Remove leaves and needles from roofs and gutters.

• Sweep porches and decks of flammable plant material.

• Move firewood piles at least 30 feet from the house, preferably uphill.

• Transfer items under decks or porches to a storage area.

• Cover any exposed eave or attic vents with 1/8 inch wire mesh.

• Make sure home address signs are clearly visible from the street.

• Sign up for emergency notifications and encourage your friends, family and neighbors to do the same. Sign up for alerts at: http://www.archuletacounty.org/569/Citizens-Alert.

• Confirm at least one alternate route out of your neighborhood other than the most commonly used one and be prepared for a possible evacuation requiring the alternate route.

“By taking care of these simple, but critically important tasks, you will better prepare yourself and your family for a wildfire,” said Matt McCombs, state forester and director of CSFS. “These are actions that anyone living near wild lands should put into practice. The Marshall Fire last December was a tragic and telling reminder that the interface between wilderness and the urban includes grasslands, not just forests. Homeowners have a responsibility to themselves and their families, as well as their community, to prepare their home and property for wildfires, and these activities are the perfect place to start.

Outdoor prevention

Please keep forest fire prevention in mind when visiting your public lands. Simple measures can reduce the risk of fire and ensure a much safer exit. Know before you go by checking for closures or restrictions during times of high fire risk. When traveling to and from your public lands, make sure your trailer chains don’t drag, as they can start wildfires. Your vehicle must also be equipped with a spark arrester. Don’t park in tall, dry grass, as the heat from your car can start a forest fire. If you smoke, smoke in your vehicle and dispose of your cigarette properly.

If campfires or grilling are permitted, clear the area of ​​vegetation and use a pre-existing campfire ring when possible. Have the proper tools to extinguish the campfire nearby before lighting it, including a bucket, water, and a shovel. Keep your fire small and never leave it unattended. Flood your fire with plenty of water and make sure the ashes are cool to the touch before leaving the area. Learn more at www.recreateresponsibly.org.

“Our need to respond to the wildfires continues to grow as the intensity and duration of fire activity increases across the state. Now more than ever, we are happy to stand with you. of our interagency partners as we approach Wildfire Awareness Month and the New Year of Fires. Collectively, we will focus on fire prevention,” said Frank Beum, Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountains region of the USDA Forest Service: “When there is fire activity, our focus will be rapid initial attack and rapid containment to minimize the number of large fires. We will respond to every wildfire with public and firefighter safety as our highest priority. »

Wildfire management in Colorado is an interagency partnership between local, state, and federal agencies. The DFPC and USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region are working with other local, state and federal agencies to coordinate statewide wildfire management.

CSFS works with the National Fire Protection Association to implement the Firewise USA program in the state and provides technical assistance to homeowners and communities to help them take action and take ownership of their homes’ fire preparedness. threat of forest fires.

Working together in these efforts, the ultimate goals of these agencies are resilient, fire-ready landscapes and communities that best ensure the safety of firefighters and the public and the protection of natural resources.

For more information on reducing wildfire risk, visit: bit.ly/COWildfireMitigation.

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