The forest fire season is in full swing, and several small fires have broken out in the past few weeks.
To educate the community about forest fire management and how to best prepare for an emergency situation, Summit County hosts a series of forest fires throughout the season. The first focused on what the county and its partners would do in the event of a forest fire emergency and what an evacuation would look like.
In the Town Hall FridayOn June 18, district leaders gathered to discuss how individual parishioners should take precautions in an emergency and how best to protect homes from forest fires. They also discussed various nationwide programs to contain potential threats.
What is the current status of the fire hazard in Summit County?
The meeting began with an update on the Straight Creek Fire from Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons.
Although the fire was contained within a few days, FitzSimons said the event sparked talks about transitioning to the level 1 fire restrictions, which officially took place across the county on Friday morning.
“The spikes we’ve seen and the fuel moisture dehydration and these weather patterns are unprecedented and people should be careful,” said FitzSimons.
During the meeting, FitzSimons said these conditions “put us on the door” to enter the Level 2 restrictions and that this can only be prevented if the county is raining and the fuel humidity changes.
FitzSimons said he and his team are watching this with other partners “in real time” and will continue to evaluate the situation in the coming days.
“You have to be careful and careful what you do for your family and be ready to act,” said FitzSimons.
How do I prepare for a possible evacuation from forest fires?
One of the best ways to prepare for a forest fire evacuation is to put together a 72-hour emergency kit, said Amanda Seidler, spokeswoman for the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District.
Seidler said the kit should contain everything you could need for three days, including clothing, food, water, medication, batteries, cash and credit cards, and phone numbers for key contacts like insurance agencies. For those who sleep in their car, they should also bring bedding such as sleeping bags and pillows.
In addition, the set should contain everything that is needed for children and pets. Seidler recommends bringing games and activities as well as food and water for pets, a leash and collar and, if necessary, a kennel or litter box. She also recommended making sure all chips and tags are up to date.
Seidler said it was important to have an emergency kit handy in the car or garage. Some people also keep a checklist of important things to take with them in an emergency so that nothing is left behind.
Although not included directly in the kit, Seidler said it is also important to keep the vehicles running on gas.
“In winter we think about having fuel in the gas tank and not lowering it to a quarter tank,” says Seidler. âThe same is true in the forest fire season. Keep it half full. You don’t know when it will happen and the gas stations will become a zoo. “
In the event you fail to get home within an evacuation period, Seidler suggested communicating with the neighbors to make sure pets are looked after and working with other organizations such as schools or camps beforehand to understand what reunification protocols are how to apply.
In addition to fueling your car and creating a 72-hour evacuation kit, individuals should have discussions with their insurance agents to ensure they have the necessary coverage. It’s also helpful to follow the social media accounts of your local cities, fire departments, and law enforcement agencies to keep up to date. Finally, Seidler recommended registering for parishioners SC warning system and download the CodeRed app.
How can I protect my home against forest fire hazards?
One of the easiest ways to protect your home from wildfire is to make sure your home is at least nine feet free of debris, piles of wood, clusters of trees, or vegetation, said Steve Lipsher, spokesman for Summit Fire & EMS.
Lipsher said one of the most important rules for properly protecting against forest fires is to keep piles of wood off the house siding and decks. At least these piles should be covered with a fire blanket, he said.
For those who have wood stoves, Lipsher suggested keeping a supply of wood near the house from November 1 to April 1 and moving it far away during the forest fire season. He said the same thing for building materials.
Trees can also pose a threat to homes, especially when they are tall, fully grown trees in a group near the home and even more so when they are connected to surrounding forests. Lipsher said fires that break out in the treetops are much more difficult to contain than a ground fire. He also noted that solitary trees are nowhere near as worrying.
Above-ground propane tanks can also pose a risk. Lipsher said that maintaining and pruning the surrounding vegetation is critical, as burning vegetation could heat the tank so much that fire fighters would have to be removed from the property and not be able to rescue nearby structures.
Another maintenance task that homeowners should do is clear out gutters or decks so they aren’t filled with dried pine needles or leaves.
“Don’t overlook the little things,” Lipsher said. “That could be the difference in saving your home.”
Which national programs are helping to reduce the risk of forest fires?
According to Lipsher, Summit Fire & EMS and the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District are conducting free assessments and making recommendations to community members on how to better protect their homes from forest fires. Community members should visit SummitFire.org or RWBFire.org for more informations.
To mitigate the risks of forest fires, Summit County has several programs in place, such as the free chipping program and the forest fire grants. For more information on these programs, see SummitCountyCo.gov/wildfire.
The next wildfire town hall is Friday, June 25th.