Following the map to wildfire safety |

Following the map to wildfire safety

A study currently being undertaken by the city of Glenwood Springs serves as a reminder that wildfires are not entirely wild.

They can be at least partly predicted by such factors as weather, vegetation, slope and whether property is south-facing. And the threat wildfires pose to homes is at least partly dictated by factors such as landscaping and building materials.

Fires that can be predicted have a better chance of being prevented. And better plans can be in put in place for fighting fires when prevention isn’t enough.

These are the reasons the city’s fire and planning departments are working with an outside contractor, Anchor Point Fire Management of Boulder, to map the varying levels of fire danger across town.

Once the danger has been assessed, the city will be able to take steps such as road widening, fuel thinning, improving access to water sources, and other measures to reduce fire danger and improve the ability to respond to a threat.

Few cities may be more motivated than Glenwood Springs to undertake the task at hand. In 1994, a fire swept across Storm King Mountain and threatened the city’s western flank, eventually coming to a halt without claiming homes, but killing 14 firefighters on the mountain. And 29 residences were lost in the Coal Seam Fire of 2002.

The fire mapping is a project that other local governments would be wise to emulate. The information generated will enable Glenwood Springs to tap grants for fire mitigation. It also will go far in helping the city know where to focus its efforts.

These efforts can fully succeed only with the cooperation of residents willing to reduce the fire threat on their properties. Hopefully, a map that shows homes sitting in the middle of a red zone will convince them of the value of joining Glenwood’s efforts to become more fire-wise.

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