City FYI: Wildfire season is coming
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
It’s hard to think of wildfire season when the weather outside shifts from rain to snow to sleet to sunshine or any combination of these during days in May. The moisture is desperately needed, as much of Colorado remains under drought conditions, including Northwest Colorado.
I think I am like many of us who can still see and smell the smoke and flames from last year’s wildfire season across Colorado, let alone right in our backyard. It was one of the most active years on record for our state.
2021 has the potential to be another devastating wildfire season, with above average temperatures and below average precipitation resulting in continued drought conditions for many, including Steamboat Springs and the surrounding areas.
In fact, there have already been more than a half dozen small wildfires across local fire districts. While we commonly see a handful of these incidents in the spring, it is something we should never lose sight of and remain ready to mobilize quickly as a community.
While professional firefighters will always be on the frontlines and ready to defend our community, I call upon every resident to don their fire prevention hat and join the cause as we ready for the upcoming wildfire period.
Be proactive and prepare
Below are a few quick tips to keep in mind as we ready ourselves for the possibility of wildfires and having to evacuate.
• Sign up to receive alerts: Go to RouttCountyAlerts.com to sign up to receive information and alerts regarding emergencies in your area, including evacuation and pre-evacuation alerts.
• Protect your Property – Defensible Space: Creating and maintaining defensible space is essential for increasing your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. The space is needed to slow the spread of wildfire and improves the safety of firefighters defending your home. Visit WildlandFiresRSG.org for additional information on defensible space.
• Hardening your home: Flying embers can destroy homes up to a mile ahead of a wildfire. Homeowners should pay particular focus on their roof, vents, eaves and soffits, windows, decks, patio covers and fences. Ensure fire has no access to your house or fuel source that has direct contact with your home.
• Go bag and escape routes: Develop an action plan with your family that includes where to go, how to get there and what to take. Put together your go bag long before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible for when you must evacuate. Plan on being away for an extended period, and always have two possible escape routes.
• Plan for the six P’s: Keep these six ‘p’ ready in case of immediate evacuation: people, pets and livestock; papers, phone numbers and important documents; prescriptions, vitamins and eyeglasses; pictures and irreplaceable items; personal computer hard drives and disks; and plastic (credit and bank cards) and cash.
• Help each other: Share information, resources and be ready to lend a hand if required. As this past pandemic year taught us, it is imperative to check in on friends, family and neighbors.
Fire does not know property, neighborhood or municipal boundaries. So we must all work together to be ready, because it is not a matter of if anymore, it is a matter of when. RouttWildfire.org is a great resource with additional information, and remember, please sign up for emergency alerts at RouttCountyAlerts.com, so you can be quickly notified when minutes matter most.
As Stephen King penned, “There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.” While I hope for the best this wildfire season, I know one thing is certain — we must prepare now individually and as a community, because wildfire season is coming.
Chuck Cerasoli is chief of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue.
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