Only you can prevent fires
By Ellen Miller
Lower Valley Fire Protection District crews have been busier than ever this spring responding to fires that got away from people burning their weeds or ditches.
Colorado experienced its driest March in its recorded weather history, according to the National Climatic Data Center, and most of the Western Slope received less than 50 percent of its average precipitation.
Response calls for out-of -control burns have nearly doubled compared with last year, department figures show.
To date, crews have responded to 67 calls, compared with 37 during the same period last year.
“It’s been an awful burn season and it’s not over by a long shot,” Fire Chief Frank Cavaliere said. “You’d think people would use a little common sense when we have drought conditions and the wind is blowing.”
So far this spring, Cavaliere said burn-permitted fires that got away have destroyed a shed, a wood pile and even singed a car.
Burn permits, which cost $10 at the fire district, carry conditions. Among other things, a permit forbids starting fires in high winds, having inadequate water on hand or leaving them unattended before they are fully out.
“A garden hose goes only 50 feet, but a fire can be 100 feet or more away before you know it,” he said.
Leaving a burn unattended before it is completely out is another problem, the chief said.
“You have to make sure it’s out. We’ve had some where the wind kicked up a couple of days later and the embers ignited,” he said.
Crews have become stretched throughout the 408-square-mile fire district, which runs from the Colorado River north to county line and from 21 ½ Road west to the state line. Through agreements with Garfield County and the state of Utah, Lower Valley also provides protection to the top of Douglas Pass and west to Cisco.