Last updated 3:49PM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Wildfire Prevention & Preparedness Part 5
(2007-04-20)
Flames such as these from last May's Black Ridge fire, made Norman Goldman and his neighbors rethink their defensible space and evacuation plans. What would you take? (Photo: Victor Locke, KSUT)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: How you react in the early hours of a wildfire, could impact your loss of property, and life.
KSUT is a co-sponsor of Wildfire Prevention and Education Month activities.
Today, we conclude a week of reports with a look at how you can best prepare to survive a wildfire.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports:

GOLDMAN: I MOVED FROM NEW YORK AND THE ONLY PROBLEM WE HAD WAS MUGGERS. NOW WE HAVE FIRES, BEETLES, DROUGHT, WE'VE GOT EVERYTHING ELSE BUT THAT.
VICTOR: It was a scary sight for Norman Goldman late last May, when a lightning strike within view of his home touched off the Black Ridge Fire.
GOLDMAN: WE WERE ALL QUITE NERVOUS, WE HAD THE CARS PACKED, AND IT WAS PRETTY FRIGHTENING.
Goldman and his neighbors in Trapper's Crossing weren't certain firefighters would succeed in keeping flames early in the firefight from racing toward, and perhaps consuming their homes.
GOLDMAN: PACKED JEWELRY, PHOTOGRAPHS, SOME MOMENTOS THAT WE COULD REMEMBER, BUT NOTHING OF REAL VALUE.
Lucky for them, a neighbor cut a dozer line and a backburn stopped Black Ridge from advancing to their homes.
It did spread in the opposite direction for several days though, consuming blackening almost 600 acres Southwest of Durango.
Lesson learned that day, you can't be too prepared if you live in an area that could burn.
GOLDMAN: IT CAN HAPPEN SO FAST, YOU HAVE TO BE COGNIZANT THAT FIRE CAN TRAVEL VERY QUICKLY ESPECIALLY WITH, IF IT'S IN THE SPRING OR TIMES WHEN IT'S VERY VERY WINDY.
LaPlata County Director of the Office of Emergency Management, Butch Knowlton says evacuation orders can come with days, hours, or a moments notice, through a phone call, or a knock on the door.
KNOWLTON: IT JUST DEPENDS ON THE PROXIMITY, THE FUEL TYPES THAT ARE WITHIN THE VICINITY OF THE FIRE, AND THE WIND CONDITIONS. WE'VE HAD LIGHTNING STRIKES THAT HAVE OCCURED VERY CLOSE TO HOMES AND IMMEDIATELY THE FIRE STARTS RUNNING THROUGH HEAVY VEGETATION AND PEOPLE HAVE HAD TO LITERALLY RUN OUT THE BACK DOOR, JUMP IN THE VEHICLE AND RUN FOR THEIR LIVES.
San Juan Public Lands fire mitigation and education specialist Allen Farnsworth says now is the time to think about building defensible space around your home, not when water bearing helicopters are circling overhead.
FARNSWORTH: IMAGINE IF THERE WAS A FIRE COMING TOWARDS YOUR PLACE AND YOU HAD EMBERS FALLING DOWN AROUND YOUR HOME, WHAT WOULD LIKELY CATCH ON FIRE. MAYBE THAT'S THE HAZARD THAT YOU SHOULD REMOVE.
And Danni Lorrigan, La Plata County Emergency Management Coordinator says many also learned about the value of having an emergency evacuation kit during the Missionary Ridge fire of 2002. She says now's a good time to revisit those kits.
LORRIGAN: I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE, DURING THAT SUMMER, DID CREATE KITS AND A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT I KNOW PUT VALUABLE PICTURES AND THINGS IN THEIR VEHICLES JUST TO HAVE WITH THEM IN CASE THEY COULDN'T GO HOME THAT AFTERNOON. SO I THINK THERE IS A HIGH AWARENESS IN OUR COMMUNITY BUT I THINK IT'S HUMAN NATURE TO BECOME COMPLACENT AFTER TIME GOES ON AND JUST TO RECOGNIZE THAT FOOD AND MEDICATIONS AND THOSE THINGS DO EXPIRE SO IF YOU DO HAVE A KIT TO REVISIT THE KIT, MAKE SURE IT HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO DATE.
In addition to placing valuable personal items and papers in such a kit, the American Red Cross offers a variety of Emergency Preparedness Kits containing other items such as first aid supplies, flashlights and radios.
Those are available online at redcrossstore.org.
La Plata Emergency Preparedness also offers an all-hazards checklist for assembling a survival kit.
Copies of that are available at the courthouse, near the information desk.
For Goldman, last year's Black Ridge Fire was a wake up call.
VICTOR: IF YOU HAD ANOTHER FIRE SITUATION HERE TOMORROW, WOULD YOU BE READY TO MOVE OUT, IF YOU HAD TO, ON A MOMENTS NOTICE.
GOLDMAN: WELL, IF WE WERE HERE WE COULD GET IN THE CAR AND MOVE OUT QUICKLY, BUT I THINK I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A LITTLE MORE PREPARATION, AND WE HOPE TO DO THAT THIS SEASON.
This year also marks the 5th Anniversary of the 70-thousand acre Missionary Ridge fire north of Durango.
A number of groups are getting together to remember the blaze in a special event.
Missionary Ridge, Five Years After the Fire, Remember, Learn, Prepare, will be held June 8th, 9th and 10th.
Lorrigan, with La Plata County Emergency Management says it's not a fundraiser or celebration, but more of an awareness event.
LORRIGAN: WE WANTED TO SORT OF REKINDLE THAT COMMUNITY SPIRIT THAT WAS VERY EVIDENT DURING THE MISSIONARY RIDGE FIRE. AND ALSO TO CALL ATTEND ON THE FACT THAT WILDFIRE'S NOT THE ONLY HAZARD IN OUR AREA, THAT TO BE PREPARED FOR WILDFIRE IS ALSO VERY GOOD SPRINGBOARD TO BE PREPARED FOR ANY EVENT SUCH AS AN ELECTRICAL OUTAGE, WINTER STORMS.
You can find out more about what's planned that weekend, by going online to missionaryridgefire.org.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.

You can obtain a copy of a survival kit checklist, by sending a self addressed envelope with 39-cents postage to: Checklist, in care of KSUT, PO Box 737, Ignacio, Colorado, 81137.


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