Emergency management agencies across the Western Slope and in Delta County are worried about the high risk of wildland fire this year.
Illustrating their concern is a fire that occurred April 11 along the brushy banks of Ward Creek west of Cedaredge.
A fire there burned several hundred square yards of undergrowth along the creek. Responding firefighters from the Cedaredge Volunteer Fire Department put the fire out only a short time before afternoon high winds began whipping up the canyon, an eyewitness told the DCI.
The blaze occurred about a quarter mile from the mouth of Colby Canyon, one of the highest risk wildland fire areas identified in the county community fire protection plan.
The fire was close enough to overhead power lines to char them. It involved a large cottonwood tree growing near the lines. The tree fell, making contact with the lines which was apparently the fire's cause, explained Kevin Walker fire chief.
The incident may have been a near miss for firefighters and incident commanders. But it points up the vigilance needed to prevent wildland fire and the dangers to property in the urban-wildland interface zone.
Delta County's emergency manager Rob Fiedler says that homeowners can find information, and possibly grant funds, for creating defensible space around their homes. Those interested may call Lilia Coulter at the West Region Wildfire Council, 729-1418.
Sheriff Fred McKee advises extreme caution. "We could see a burn ban fairly early this year," McKee said. "Call the burn line, 399-2955, before deciding to initiate an agriculture burn. Other open burning requires a permit from the state."
The Montrose Interagency Fire Management Unit combines resources of the Forest Service, BLM and National Park Service for preventing and combating wildland fires. "Current local fuel and weather conditions indicate the potential for significant wildfire activity. Already this year, the National Weather Service has issued multiple Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings for much of western Colorado and the state as a whole," states an advisory from the unit which also recommends the following safety tips for campers:
• Allow wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
• Pour lots of water on the fire, and drown all embers, not just the red ones.
• Stir campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
• Scrape sticks and logs to remove any embers.
• Stir and make sure everything is wet and cold to the touch.
• If water is not available, use dirt. Mix dirt with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cool.blog comments powered by Disqus