Getting prepared for the upcoming wildfire season |

Getting prepared for the upcoming wildfire season

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – It may be snowing outside, but this winter’s overall thin snowpack means the risk of wildfire will be higher in 2012 than in recent years.

Glenwood Springs Deputy Fire Marshall Ron Biggers wants property owners, and anyone else interested in learning about wildfire, to attend any of five wildfire preparedness meetings to be held next week throughout Garfield County.

The meetings are intended to inform homeowners, business owners and others how to reduce wildfire risks through mitigation measures and by taking precautions. It’s far better to spend time in late winter and spring reducing burnable fuels than to wait for fire season to hit, Biggers said.

“It’s a little late when the smoke is in the air,” Biggers said dryly in an interview Friday.

Across Colorado, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Colorado State Forest Service are working with counties and fire districts to prepare or update wildfire plans through the Colorado Wildfire Protection Plans program.

Next week’s wildfire plan presentations, Biggers said, are intended to provide general guidelines for private property owners. They will also serve as a springboard for each fire department’s response plan.

“We’re in an environment that’s designed to burn,” Biggers said.

Wildfires are natural occurrences, and humans can do little about them beyond using common sense, being as prepared as possible and getting out of the way, he explained.

For instance, he said, wildfires in this area are usually driven by weather. Wind is an important factor in how far and how fast a fire can spread.

Biggers advised homeowners to “think like you were an ember.” Look around your property, he advised, and figure out where windblown sparks might get stuck and smolder. Then treat those areas so they can resist catching fire.

Oakbrush surrounding a home, for example, is a widespread problem in this area.

Next week’s wildfire briefings will teach homeowners what can be done to minimize the hazard as much as possible.

“I’ve attempted to make it more of a ‘firewise’ educational meeting,” Biggers said. He will be conducting the Rifle and Glenwood Springs meetings, while other fire officials will lead the meetings in Parachute, New Castle and Carbondale.

In addition to fire officials, insurance industry representatives will explain coverage issues related to wildfire.

For more information, call Biggers at 384-6433.

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