In the last ten days, Colorado has witnessed several damaging wildfires in various areas of the state that, according to news reports, have burned nearly 30,000 acres—a number that continues to grow by the day—and to date have destroyed nearly two dozen homes and other structures. Our hearts go out to the Colorado residents affected by the Lower North Fork Fire near Conifer.
Currently, there are a number of states across the U.S., including Colorado, that are experiencing red flag warnings and high wildfire risk danger. The good news is, there are steps you can take to reduce wildfire risks to lives and property before a wildfire threatens your area. More than 750 communities in the U.S. – including 35 in Colorado – have dramatically lowered their risk of wildfire damage by participating in the Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program. Learn more about how your community can get involved by visiting the Firewise website.
As you prepare your property for wildfire searson, consider the following simple steps you can take now to reduce the risk of your home and property from becoming fuel for a wildfire.
- Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
- Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
- Remove fuel within 3-5 feet of your home’s foundation and out buildings including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
- Remove dead vegetation surrounding your home, within the 30-100 foot area.
- Wildfire can spread to tree tops. If you have large trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet high.
- Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
- When planting, choose slow-growing, carefully placed shrubs and trees so the area can be more easily maintained.
- Landscape with native and less-flammable plants. Your state forestry agency or county extension office can provide plant information.
For additional Firewise tips, or information about how to become an official Firewise site, contact your local Firewise state liaison or Firewise regional advisor. They are more than happy to answer any questions you have and provide the resources you need to help you get started. As always, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division staff wants to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at our main headquarters in Quincy, MA or at our regional Denver office.
Do you live in or near Jefferson County, Colorado? Follow along with Jefferson County Sheriff's Office blog for updates on the Lower North Fork Fire.