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It’s time to start mitigating your property — even if it’s starting with the little things — and to do it now.
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That was the message from officials on May 7 during the second annual Community Wildfire Preparedness Day. Representatives from the Evergreen and Elk Creek fire departments plus Rotary Wildfire Ready provided seminars on how to get started and spoke one-on-one with residents. Plus Jeffcom911, the county’s emergency dispatch service, urged residents to sign up for its new Smart911 reverse emergency-notification system.
Ironically, while about 70 people were listening to Jess Moore, Evergreen Fire/Rescue’s reduction risk coordinator, explain that now was the time to start mitigating, emergency personnel were extinguishing a fire off of Wamblee Valley Trail and Pinto Drive in Conifer as pre-evacuation orders were put in place. Luckily, the fire was put out and residents were allowed to go home.
Saturday’s windy weather and the fire in Conifer emphasized the need for homeowners to start somewhere.
“Fire will happen,” Moore said. “It’s our responsibility to create an environment on our properties, so fire can move through without destroying it.”
While what people think of as mitigation is expensive and labor intensive, starting with something as simple as clearing pine needles from around the house and from gutters in a good start, she said. Maintaining a five-foot non-combustible zone around the home is important.
Moore told the group that what is called an ember wash is the most concerning because embers land everywhere, which is why roofs are the most vulnerable to wildfire. Windows and skylights should be double-paned because if they break from the heat, then the embers burn the inside of the home.
Outside the EFR administration building, the Rotary Wildfire Ready fire engine was parked with plenty of volunteers available to answer questions. The fire engine is part of the grassroots effort by the Evergreen, Mountain Foothills and Conifer Rotary clubs to educate the public about the work that needs to be done.
Moore also discussed the chipping program and available home assessments, similar to programs offered by the Elk Creek and the Inter-Canyon fire departments. Signups for the chipping program, where EFR chips and hauls away the wood chips, will begin on May 23. One-hour home assessments are available by contacting EFR’s community ambassadors. The more extensive home assessments will be available soon.
Mark Lehrner and Lauren Kaufman, who have lived in the Kerr Gulch area for two years, attended the event to learn more about mitigation. They did some work on their property when they first moved in, and they were looking for pointers on where to go next.
“This is important,” Kaufman said of wildfire mitigation.
They agreed that hearing the mitigation information again never hurts.
Stacy Strittmatter, who works for Jeffcom911, talked with attendees about making sure they are signed up for reverse emergency notification. Strittmatter, who lives in Superior, said she would never have evacuated her home early during the Marshall Fire if it had not been for that notification.
She said she was the neighbor knocking on doors, telling others to evacuate.
“The minute you are told to evacuate, do it," she said. "(Reverse emergency notification) saves lives.”
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