DENVER (KDVR) — Four of the top five largest wildfires in Colorado have occurred in the last three years, according to Colorado’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control.
Fire officials and agencies are hoping Coloradans are vigilant about wildfires ahead of the windy season.
Fire departments are always ready and planning for the next big fire but they said without communities doing their part to mitigate wildfires, the risk remains high for another disaster.
“We can do our job but we also need the community to do theirs,” Kim Spuhler, from South Metro Fire Rescue, said.
The Marshall Fire was a lesson for fire departments and first responders, but fire officials said they want it to be a learning experience for residents as well.
“Right now we know fires don’t just stay in the forest,” Spuhler said, “anywhere that there’s open space, there’s a vulnerability.”
That vulnerability puts communities in the crosshairs of wildfire danger.
“If you’re a mile to two miles around these open spaces that’s how far an ember can travel,” Spuhler said.
Ahead of the windy season, Spuhler urges folks to remember three elements of a wildfire.
“Fuel, oxygen and heat,” Spuhler said, “fuel can be anything like our homes.”
Cloth, rags, homes, leaves, can all be fuel for a wildfire.
That fuel can be abundant and put some communities at high risk.
“Oxygen, obviously, is all around us and then that heat source, that is where sometimes we let down our vigilance,” Spuhler said.
The heat source is where you and I factor into the equation.
Spuhler said our ability to prevent, or cause, heat is the difference between a quiet day and a disaster.
“Heat can be barbequed, it can be cigarettes, it can be shell casings, it can be any heat source. If it’s too hot to touch it can start a fire,” Spuhler said.