Considering how much snow fell this winter, you might think forest fires might not be a problem this summer. Yet, despite the snowpack, there is always the possibility of a fire when you live in the mountains. This could be an unusually dry spring and early summer that will negate the amazing snowpack we had this winter. Another scenario is that it could remain wet this spring, allowing the grass to grow and thrive, those conditions can actually help carry a forest fire. You just never can tell what Mother Nature will do.
It is best that we prepare for what Mother Nature might throw at us because despite our best efforts we have not found a way to control her. Fire mitigation might currently be our best defense against Mother Nature’s mood swings when it comes to forest fires. Fire mitigation is basically the process of cleaning up your property and sealing any entryways for embers to fly toward your home. There is ongoing research to improve how homes are built to help prevent ember ignition from fires. This is called home hardening. However, until there is a fireproof house, we need to be proactive to provide ourselves with a buffer zone in case there is a wildfire. This buffer zone is called defensible space, or D-space, to fire management specialists. There is a pretty simple set of guidelines to help homeowners create a D-space and clear an area around your house that is free of fire escalating fuels. These D-space zones than extend away from your home and will create a mosaic of your landscape so fire does not have a continuous fuel source.
Eagle County has done an amazing job developing Wildfire Regulations along with a Community Wildfire Protection Plan. These regulations and plans help keep our communities safe and prepared in the event of a wildfire. If you would like to read through either of these documents they are located on the Eagle County Website here. The important points in these documents include that you should make sure your home is built with ignition resistant materials and you should create a defensible space around your home.
Defensible space is a common theme in fire mitigation. FireWise is a national organization created to help educate homeowners who live in areas prone to wildfires. It might sound crazy to start learning how to “live with wildfires” but that is the reality we are in right now, especially in our area. Evidence shows a global trend to warming and intense storms are occurring more frequently, wildfires are something we have to expect and fire management specialists are here to help adapt to it. Unfortunately, wildfires are unpredictable and erratic, so we can only make the best efforts in preparation.
There are numerous private and government organizations that are researching the best ways to prepare us for a wildfire. Here in Eagle County REALFire, a voluntary property assessment program, is available to all residential properties. REALFire was created to assist homeowners understand the wildfire risks on their properties and what steps they can take to prepare their home. Also contact your local fire department and they will be able to direct you to a fire mitigation specialist to assess your home.
Photo Credit: Old Growth Tree Service
Once you have an assessment, call us! Old Growth Tree Service has past and present wildland firefighters on staff to help oversee this program. We have a crew, expertise and special machinery dedicated to create a safe D-space and assist in fire mitigation on your property.
Photo Credit: (Top Photo) Monday, June 11, 2018, photo, flames consume trees during a burnout operation that was performed south of County Road 202 near Durango, Colo. Firefighters use the technique as a means to control wildfires. (Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP)