As the heat of summer looms, wildfire experts are urging not to look past the increasing risk of wildfires. If you’re just starting to think about mitigation for your home, you are behind the eight ball, but the wet, cool spring has provided a cushion for you to catch up. This edition of the Local News Network has brought to you by Tafoya Barrett and Associates and Sirius Texas Barbecue. I’m Connor Shreve. With plenty of snow last winter and a fairly cool spring, the temptation could be to let down your guard when it comes to fire safety and mitigation, but Dolores Ranger District Fire Crew Captain Vince Mowery says that would be a mistake.
That doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods for fires this summer. It could be the case that the faucet turns off, we stopped getting that precipitation, and things dry out, and the sun is shining down and the fuels are going to dry out, and our fire danger is going to increase because of that. So the fire danger really has less to do with what happened over the winter and really more, what’s the weather been for the last two to four weeks?
He does say all the moisture helps, but there’s a lot of gray area when it comes to the weather patterns and fire risk.
If we do continue to get a bunch of precipitation like this, that’ll help us out, but it also runs the risk of having plenty of moisture to grow those fine fuels, the grasses and the brush. And if it stops raining, that can dry out, and there’s that much more fuel for those fires to burn.
Reducing wildfire risk comes down to mostly two groups, homeowners and recreationalists. Lorena Williams with the San Juan National Forest urges those who use the forest to be aware of whether or not there are fire restrictions in place. And yes, that means your vacation or camping trip might require a little homework.
We just really want the public to be thinking ahead before they arrive on the forest or on the public lands that they’re recreating, and so that they’re prepared for whatever the scenario is. That might mean bringing a propane fire pit that has an on off switch that can be used even during some of our fire restrictions. And so that’s a great option for folks.
She says there can be legal action taken for those who start an illegal fire, or even improperly extinguishing a legal one. The other part of the equation, getting homeowners to take care of mitigation work around their properties. Wildfire specialist Kevin Lindner says the wet spring has given homeowners more time to do that work.
So instead of the contractors that are usually doing that fire mitigation being kind of contracted out on fires locally across the nation, they’re ready, willing, and available to do mitigation efforts around the area. And if you want to do it yourself, you know the weather’s tempered. It’s nice outside. We’ve got green grass. It’s a really good time to catch our breath and get your mitigation done around your home.
You can start with simple measures like removing pine needles from roofs and gutters, making sure your address is visible from the street, and registering with your emergency management office to receive alerts. Other tips are online at livewildfireready.org. The coolest spring has allowed firefighters to get more thinning, burning, and preparation done than in recent years. But officials still warn that if the last decade is any indication, there’s no good time to get complacent. Details on this and other stories are available at durangolocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network, I’m Connor Shreve.