How is our valley preparing for a wildfire?

A couple readers have asked for a discussion on this topic. Comments from elected officials and staff are appreciated. -Thanks, Cit Team

“Salida Citizen…there are some of us concerned citizens who are wondering if the city of Salida and the enforcement agencies of emergency prepardness are speaking and preparing the town if we should have a fire and need to be on pre evac. or worse. What is the city doing or saying to prepare us all….this is not to be an alarmist, just being prepared for a very REAL possibility. Thanks.”

The Citizen is happy to provide a forum for comments and discussion. Please be civil, truthful, and relevant. Please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. Real names are appreciated.

5 Responses to “How is our valley preparing for a wildfire?”

  1. Kent Maxwell

    If you're hoping government has all the answers to your personal safety or the survival of your possessions, you might be disappointed. Fortunately, Chaffee and Lake counties have a long history of interagency cooperation for wildfire planning, training and response. The valley's firefighters benefit from easy access and reduced cost to the only year-round wildland firefighter school in the country, Colorado Firecamp. In exchange for providing some instructors and standby medical coverage for the physical fitness "pack test" on county road 120 about once a month, nearly every Salida Fire Department firefighter has taken training at Firecamp without direct cost to the city.

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  2. Annette Stolba

    Chaffee County Emergency Services personnel, train and prepare year round for many types of emergencies and are well prepared for just about anything that comes their way. We hope that the citizen in this wonderful county will become prepared also. In some emergencies it may be difficult for emergency services to reach your location, this occurred just two years ago in Park County with the heavy snow fall, many of the roads were not passable, some for several days. Do you have the means to be in your home for 72 hours or longer until someone can get to you? Do you have enough food, water, medications? If you have to evacuate do you have everything quickly accessible so that you could grab it and leave at a moments notice. There are several good websites that can assist you on how to be prepared for emergencies, whether you are able to stay in your home or have to evacuate.

    The Ready, Set, Go! Program which is managed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, helps to teach individuals who live in high risk wildfire areas, how to best prepare themselves and their properties against fire threats. www.wildlandfirersg.org

    Ready Colorado – This website will help you to plan for the emergency, gathering information that you can put on a card and print out for each family member, with emergency numbers, etc. It will also assist you in putting together a “Go kit” for emergencies. www.readycolorado.com

    Colorado State Forest service website has an abundance of information, the Colorado Wildfire Protection Plans for several of the Chaffee County areas are on this website, mitigation information and other resources. http://csfs.colostate.edu

    Chaffee County has several emergency service employees who are CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) instructors, this course gives citizens the knowledge and tools to assist emergency services, by knowing how to help themselves and their neighbors. The course is 24 hours in length and the instructors are more than willing to teach it in time blocks that are convenient for those who wish to take the course. For more information call CERT Coordinator Don Breece with the Chaffee County Public Health department.

    There is also a wealth of information in the Chaffee County Emergency Preparedness guides that were mailed to citizens last year. If you do not have one please go to www.chaffeecounty.org/Emergency-Management, and follow the link for the Emergency Preparedness Guide.

    Your emergency services professionals are here to assist you, however in a large emergency they may become overwhelmed and it may take a while to get to everyone, so help them help you and educate yourselves to be prepared. If you need further information you can call Chaffee County Emergency Management, or any of the emergency services departments non emergency numbers in the phone book.
    Annette Stolba
    Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office
    Communications Manager

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  3. Cynda Green

    I lost a cabin to a catastrophic wild fire in 2003. The whole mountain burned to the tree roots.
    My advice is:
    1) Sign up for Chaffee County's Code Red Program at http://chaffeesheriff.org/communication/code-red/ That way you'll be notified in case of an emergency.
    2) Respect wild fire. You can't beat it. When you're told to evacuate, do it. Your life is more important than protecting your property.
    3) Examine your home insurance policy and keep it in a safe place. Make sure the coverage is enough to build a new home if you should lose your home. That detail will save you much pain if the worst should happen.
    4) Understand that we live in the mountains, and wild fire is a part of the natural cycle of forests. Accept that risk, and be stoic if your number comes up.

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  4. cory

    Well said Cynda...I'd like to add to make a list of your "unreplaceables" to grab in case of an evacuation. It is very difficult think clearly when the evac order has been called and you only have a few minutes to get out. Family pics, baby books and grandma's china are things that insurance will pay you for, but can never replace.

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