JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Scars of Jefferson County’s latest fire, the Hogback Fire, served as a glaring reminder that wildfires are a very real threat in Colorado.
“If it’s not raining currently, give it an hour when things dry out. We call them the one-hour fuel, they’re ready to burn after that,” said West Metro Fire Capt. Branden Finnegan. “There is no traditional fire season in Colorado anymore.”
Though the Hogback Fire kept to less than 50 acres, West Metro crews couldn’t help but draw parallels to the Marshall Fire.
“So, you know when we talk about the wildland-urban interface where our structures meet up to the wildland areas, and sometimes those grasslands were left out of that equation and we saw it in the in the Marshall Fire how fast that rips through the grasslands and then up against combustible materials in our subdivisions,” said Finnegan. “The structures in our current common subdivisions, they’re very close together and there’s not a lot of room between homes, so we can have home-to-home ignition.”
They encourage every homeowner to take responsibility for their property protection.
“So, if each homeowner can take care of their property first working from the structure out. We look at that zero to five-feet zone as our immediate zone of hazard,” Finnegan said. “If you look in areas where leaves have piled up and corners of your yard, along fence lines, or in nooks and crannies of your home, that will be a place where embers will land and light those fuels on fire and then start igniting the home.”
What to do before a wildfire threatens your area
The National Fire Protection Agency has a list of things homeowners can do to protect themselves:
- Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
- Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch and within 10 feet of the house. Learn more about the basics of defensible space on the Firewise website.
- Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
- Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
- Wildfires can spread to treetops. Prune trees so the lowest branches are six to 10 feet from the ground.
- Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
- Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
- Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
- Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than a one-eighth inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
- Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to prevent ember entry.
However, fire crews said they’d like to see mitigation go beyond just tidying up. They want communities to be more proactive.
“We’re looking for fire-adapted communities where all of our neighbors are participating in this type of cleanup and working together as a community to make sure the entire communities are safe and we’d love to help educate those communities whenever they need,” said Finnegan.