The West is on Fire, 3 Things You Can Do To Help
Since the full heat of summer has descended on the West, many are struggling with conditions, with many 4th of July fireworks celebrations canceled and Fire Restrictions in place in the hopes of preventing as many fires as possible.
The Denver Post has reported that more than half of Colorado is in a state of exceptional drought. In the last few decades Colorado has gone from around 20 large fires a year to over 100, and of that 84 % are human-caused. The Spring Creek Fire is considered human-caused and over 2,000 individuals in three counties had to evacuate.
Closer to the Western Slope is the Dollar Ridge Fire near Strawberry Reservoir in Utah which has already destroyed 90 homes and threatens more, and the Divide Fire in Craig, flaring and adding thousands of acres after winds encouraged the then contained fire to spread taking another additional structure. Almost daily we hear of another fire.
It's important to keep up to date with fires nearby in case of evacuation orders, or if evacuees seek refuge near you.
The question is, what can we do?
3 Things You Can Do
1. Observe your fire restrictions.
Every area is different, with fire restrictions ranging from none to stage 2 and areas under 3 under fire. You can easily reference fire restrictions for your county at Colorado's Official State Web Portal here.
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions
- The building of, maintaining, attending or using campfires except within developed areas are prohibited.
- Smoking, except in a vehicle or building, is prohibited unless in an area 3 feet around that is devoid of flammable material.
- Operating/using combustion engines without spark-arresting devices that are properly installed, maintained and effective working order is prohibited.
Stage 2 Fire Restrictions
- Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire is prohibited even within developed areas.
- Smoking except in a vehicle or building is prohibited.
- Possessing, discharging or using any firework or pyrotechnic device is prohibited.
- Explosives are prohibited.
- Operating a chainsaw or other equipment with an internal combustion engine is prohibited between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m.
- Operating/using combustion engines without spark-arresting devices that are properly installed, maintained and effective working order is prohibited..
- Welding or operating an acetylene or other torches with an open flame is prohibited.
- Possess or use a motor vehicle off: Except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the roadway; and except for parking overnight in developed campgrounds and at trailheads.
Stage 3 Fire Restrictions
- Closure of areas. This means that the area is closed to all entry other than those with a written fire entry and activity permit, any federal state or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty or resident owners of the land in the closed area.
2. Watch the news and keep up with local fires
Colorado has a multitude of resources to help you keep track of nearby fires. Colorado's official portal has a link to an app the Wildfire Watch App. Click here to access the page and link.
Different areas need different things, so it's important to watch local resources, but there are always a few items that are accepted and wanted. A great way to check on where the drop off locations are, or what items are needed are individual county websites or county Facebook pages. For example, Rio Blanco County Listed theirs with a list of acceptable items.
Helpful items include:
- Bottled Water
- Protein/Energy Bars
Each area is different so bear that in mind when you check sites, as each area varies in what they can take.
These sites are also a good place to check what victims of the fire can use or where to donate funds for rebuilding efforts. Red Cross, often takes money to buy essential items and other charities are set up to help the victims. Reaching out to these resources is the best way to effectively help.