Boulder fire a ‘wake-up call’ for Summit County
September 7, 2010
SUMMIT COUNTY – As firefighters worked to control the Fourmile Fire in Boulder County Tuesday, local fire officials urged residents to be cautious and stay prepared for such an emergency in Summit County.
Fire danger in Summit County rose from “high” to “very high” Tuesday, and a small fire broke out on Sentinel Island in Frisco Bay. Lake Dillon Fire Rescue (LDFR) responded to the 100-square-foot blaze, which was found to be dying out when crews arrived. Investigators believe the fire was caused by humans but was not a campfire.
“It was probably more of a deliberate act,” LDFR spokesman Steve Lipsher said. “Fortunately, the winds died down – otherwise more of the island could have burned. If anyone saw anything suspicious, we would love them to report it to local authorities.”
The 7,000-acre fire in Boulder, which has burned several homes, “is a good wake-up call for all of us,” Lipsher said.
Local fire officials refer to the late summer and early fall as a second fire season, according to Lipsher. Vegetation is drying out, humidity is low, and daytime temperatures remain high.
“This is not unusual,” Lake Dillon deputy fire chief Jeff Berino said. “We won’t be fully out of danger until we have a solid blanket of snow on the ground.”
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Under current conditions, a major fire can start from just a few sparks, or from a hot ATV in high grasses.
“The message, now more than ever, is for people to be careful,” Lipsher said.
Officials are also reminding residents to have an evacuation plan and to undertake a few simple preparations in case wildfire does strike locally.
“The hope is that wildfire does not occur in Summit County,” Sheriff John Minor said. “The reality is that we live in a fire-prone area, and we need to be prepared in the event of a wildfire. Do you and every member of your family know what you need, where to go, and how to get reunited?”
Officials suggest all households assemble an emergency kit now so that residents can leave quickly from home, work, shopping or elsewhere. Summit County’s public safety agencies have plans for evacuation routes and public shelter areas, but the unpredictable nature of a wildfire means that nothing is absolutely certain. In some scenarios, residents may even be asked to stay in their homes rather than try to evacuate.
“Too often, people fail to prepare for situations beyond their immediate to-do list,” said Dan Schroder, of Colorado State University Extension. “The populated, forested area of Summit County is where we have to be most diligent, because it is an area filled with dead trees.”
SDN reporter Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or email@example.com.