Wildfire Decisions


| 4/10/2018 9:51:00 AM


Tags: wildfire mitigation plan, Bruce McElmurray, Colorado,

 

Climate Change

Whether you believe in climate change or not we have definitely noticed a difference in our local weather patterns. It has been far more dramatic this year than we have noticed in the past 20+ years. We usually receive on average around 265” of snow each snow season. This year we have only received 95”, and we have been in red flag warnings for wildfire more than we have been out. While it is not unusual to have high winds in the mountains, this year and last year there have been regular high wind warnings. In addition our temperatures seem to have been higher than usual. These conditions make us acutely more aware of a potential wildfire threat than usual.

Common Sense Prevention

We have chosen  to be proactive in wildfire prevention and over the years have taken significant precautions to give ourselves the best opportunity to survive a wildfire should we be unable to evacuate. The exterior of our home is native stone (see photo), our trees have been thinned or removed the required distance from the structure, limbs have been trimmed 18-20’ high, undergrowth has been removed or trimmed low to the ground and we have a high pitch metal  roof. We have also invested in a misting system for the exposed wooden deck. Some are inclined to put a sprinkler on exposed wood but that will drain a well dry in short order. A mist system slowly mists the exposed wood and doesn’t drain a well while still keeping the wood damp.

Propane tanks in our community are required to be out of sight and many use wooden fences around them to be in compliance. We chose to surround our tank with a masonry stone enclosure with a metal top - neither which are flammable.  In addition we maintain two 55 gallon drums of water and we purchased a hand pump that will pump a gallon a minute as a backup defensive measure. Does taking all these measures mean we would survive a wildfire? Not necessarily but they do give us a better chance than most. When a wildfire is bearing down on you is not the time to be thinking of prevention.

Multiple Factors To Consider

 No two communities are the same and different challenges confront each wildfire prone community. Our community is approximately 15 miles long and 5-6 miles wide with one entry/exit which is gated. The leaders within our community have struggled for years to develop a safe and viable evacuation plan in addition to doing tree mitigation. The mitigation has proceeded slowly but no evacuation plan has been developed that seems plausible. To establish a flawed plan that has a high danger of putting residents at risk is worse than no plan at all in my estimation.

The proposed  evacuation route over several miles of jeep trail through the forest is fraught with potential disaster especially for those in small cars with 13” wheels or large RV’s. We have hiked the mostly unmaintained two rut roads and they present a serious hazard; therefore it is good to have a personal plan in case evacuation presents more of a danger than hunkering down in place.




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